Friday, January 9, 2009

Oil strike begins to pinch new

The oil officers strike entered the third day today as talks between the
government and striking officers association failed to arrive at a settlement,
amidst visible signs of fuel shortages, the liklihood of officers from other
public sector units joining the oil officers strike and reports of the
government having ordered oil companies to sack the striking officers.

So far 64 officers, belonging to the Oil Sector Officers Association, which is
spearheading the strike, had been terminated yesterday even as the strike is
expected to escalate to other public sector units in the in power, steel and
engineering sectors. Reports also say senior oil company executives being
sympathetic to the striking officers.

With only Hindustan Petroleum Corporation supplying fuel, and exisitng stocks
being rapidly depleted, the situation has turned grim with prospects of
scarcities looming large. According to reports snaking queues are seen outside
HPCL petrol pumps.

A large number of petrol pumps and CNG outlets operated by Indian Oil and Bharat
Petroleum have run out of stock and consumers are beginning to feel the impact
of the strike as cabs and autos go off the roads as tanks run dry.
Domestic Airlines

Shortage of petrol, diesel and cooking gas has been reported from various parts
of the country as the indefinite strike of state-owned oil companies\' officers
enterd its third day. A number of pumps had reduced their stocks in anticipation
of a further cut in fuel prices.

After a marathon two-hour negotiation, petroleum minister Murli Deora and the
striking officers had failed to arive at a settlement as both refused to budge
from their demands.

The impact of the strike is expected to magnify as the government has so far
refused to relent to the striking officers demand for better pay packages, on
the grounds that the recently revised salaries are among best at a time when the
economic slowdown is leading to job losses.

Deora is likely to meet Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh later in the afternoon
on the strike after the union cabinet morning.

Flights have been delayed and cancelled at all major cities, with the worst
affected being Indian Airlines,
Jet Airways and
Jetlite as they source their
aviation turbine fuel from Indian Oil Corporation, whose officers have
alsojoined the strike. However,
had had a relatively smoother time as it tanks up from Hindustan
Petroluem, whose officershave not joined the strike.

The country\'s main gas trunk pipeline Hazira-Vijaypur-Jagdishpur (HVJ), run by
GAIL, continued to remain out of operations as ONGC has failed to supply natural

The impact is now also being felt on the power sector, with the gas-based power
units across the country facing shutdowns on Thursday. According to the
\'northern region load despatch centre\' data, around 1,500 MW of gas generation
was \'\'affected due to non-availability of fuel.\'\'

The shortages have affected power generation at power plants operating on
natural gas as feedstock, across states.

Over 9,000 officers of National Thermal power Corporation are expected to join
the approximately 40,000 oil sector officers, raising the spectre of power cuts.

The BHEL Executives\' Associations, which supports the OSOA\'s srike plans to join
the strike if the government does not implement the Justice M J Rao Committee\'s
recommendations for central public sector enterprises.

Oil officers being sacked

The government has asked PSU chiefs to sack the striking officers. It is
reported that upto 64 officers from ONGC may be sacked. ONGC\'s Association for
Scientific Technical Officers (ASTO) secretary Manoj Bhagawati said that
including him three other officers from Assam Assets were placed under
suspension for participating in the nationwide strike since Wednesday.

Another three suspended officers include A K Barua, Diyajuddin Ahmed and
Safaruddin Ahmed.

Impact of the common man

* Fuel scarcity for private car owners

* Taxis and autorickshaws have been going off the road as their tanks run dry

* Commodities will get dearer if they cannot reach market, particulalry
perishables like vegetables and fruits

* Cuts in power supply

* Flights affected

* LPG and pipeline gas supplies fall

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