People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIV

No. 01

January 03, 2010

Oil & Gas Workers Conf Denounces Pvt policy of UPA Govt

                                                                              Swadesh Dev Roye

 
THE triennial conference of the Petroleum and Gas Workers’ Federation of India (PGWFI) was held at Mumbai on December 11-12, 2009. The thematic slogans of the conference were: “Protect oil PSUs to energise self-reliant national economy” and “unify struggles of regular and contract workers to fortify right to trade union and right to collective bargaining”

A total of 232 delegates from 48 unions affiliated with the federation attended the conference. Workers of upstream and down stream oil PSUs including ONGC, OIL, GAIL, IOCL, BPCL, HPCL, CPCL, KRL, NRL were represented in the conference. Segment-wise break up of the delegates were thus: exploration and production of oil and gas – 65; refining – 51; marketing – 110 and others – 06.  It is important to take note of the unique composition of the affiliates of the federation. Apart from the CITU affiliated unions, there are many major independent trade unions affiliated with the federation and some of them are the lone recognised ones in their respective companies/units. Further, it is of paramount importance that both the regular and contract workers’ unions of the oil PSUs are constituents of the federation. Out of the 48 unions that participated in the conference, 29 were of the regular workers and 19 belonged to the contract workers.

INAUGURAL SESSION

The inaugural session was a very colourful one. It was held at the spacious auditorium at Chembur, Mumbai. More than twelve hundred workers from all the oil PSUs participated in the inaugural session. Bilateralism was one of the highlights of the inaugural session. While the directors/general managers (human resources) of all major public sector oil companies attended the conference, the chief managing directors(CMDs) of ONGC, IOC and HPCL were also present in the session and addressed the participants. The fraternal delegates from abroad of course also took part in the session.

The inaugural session commenced with the presidential address delivered by Pradeep Mayekar, the president of the federation. M K Pandhe, president, CITU addressed the session as chief guest.  He spoke at length dealing with the international oil economy and barbarous policy of political hegemony of imperialist powers. He narrated the highly appreciable role of the oil PSUs in our country and severely criticised the government of the day for privatising the oil sector through different routes. He expressed serious concern at the massive contractorisation in oil PSUs.   The CMDs and foreign fraternal delegates also addressed the session. The delegates from different parts of the country were highly impressed at the size and shine of the inaugural session.  

DELEGATE SESSION

The delegate session was held on  December 12, at the auditorium of Vasudhara Bhavan complex of ONGC at Bandra, Mumbai. It commenced with the adoption of condolence resolutions followed by constitution of credential committee, minutes committee and committee for liaisoning with unions for nomination to executive committee to be elected in the conference. Tapan Sen, senior vice president of the federation delivered the opening speech setting the tone of the session.

Swadesh Dev Roye, general secretary placed the report of the secretariat. The report dealt with the collapse of imperialist globalisation, the crisis of capitalist economies and shocking response by the capitalist governments and the struggles of the working class in the international arena. On national front, it detailed the retrograde steps of the UPA-II government and post election push to disinvestment pin pointing the onslaught of privatisation on oil PSUs in the country. An elaborate analysis of the world oil scenario in the matter of reserves, production and refining, onslaught of private oil MNCs and imperialist machinations against the oil rich countries and state owned oil enterprises was made in the report. New technology, investment and new discovery of crude oil reserve, mergers and acquisitions have been discussed in the report. The other important issues discussed in the report are the volatility of crude oil pricing in the international market and significant role played by the government of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. The whole gamut of petroleum pricing policy of the government of the country has been detailed in the report.

Dipankar Mukherjee, vice president, supplemented the placement of the report. In his speech he dealt with certain basic issues of the industry and critically elaborated the pricing policy of the government. His article exposing the role of the government on the gas pricing and the tussle between the Ambani brothers has been annexed with the general report.

The report has also undertaken a review of the activities of the federation during the intervening period and charted out the forthcoming struggles and organisational tasks. The initiative of the federation in organising the contract workers in oil PSUs on the basis of their burning issues has been brought into immense focus in the general report.

26 delegates both from regular and contract workers participated in the discussion on the report. The highlights of the discussion were the denouncement of the policy of privatisation of the government, the current round of wage negotiations, disturbing ratio of executives and workmen in the total manpower in the oil PSUs, aggravating adverse relativity in pay and benefits between workers and executives etc. The urgency of integrating the struggles of the regular and contract workers was stressed upon by the speakers. Self-critical discussion on the organisational weakness was an important feature of the debate.  The facts, figures and formulations featured in the general report have received appreciation from amongst the participants in the debate. After reply to the debate by the general secretary, the report was adopted unanimously.   

Since inception, the federation has been continuously expanding its international relations through exchange of delegations and participating in international events of petroleum workers trade union movement.  While delegations from China, France, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Bangladesh participated in the conference, solidarity messages came from Russian Oil Federation. Although Venezuela, Brazil and Colombia accepted the invitation, ultimately due to communication problem, delegations from these three countries could not join the conference. 

NEW COMMITTEE

The conference decided to have a total of 31 office bearers and 57 executive committee members (ECMs). While 28  office bearers including Pradeep Mayekar as president, Swadesh Dev Roye as general secretary and Swapan Ganguly as secretary (finance) were unanimously elected by the delegates, three posts have been kept vacant to be filled up in future as per requirement. Similarly 57 ECMs were nominated/elected out of which nine have been subsequently elected as office bearers resulting in nine vacancies of ECMs which would be filled up in future.  

The re-elected president of the federation Pradeep Mayekar (himself, a blue collar worker of ONGC, posted at Mumbai) delivered the concluding speech.  He expressed his deep satisfaction at the most successful conclusion of the conference.  He said both the inaugural session and delegate session attained all round success.  He thanked the delegates from all over the country for their participation in the conference and contribution in the

He clearly identified three distinct important factors which have contributed in a big way in strengthening the coordination amongst the trade unions functioning in different oil PSUs in Mumbai which in turn has organisationally helped the respective unions. Firstly through the activities of the united forum against privatisation of Oil PSUs, secondly by participating in the foundation conference and ultimately joining the federation and thirdly through the activities in successfully hosting the present conference of the federation.   

Finally he appealed to all the unions to take all necessary steps to implement the tasks identified in the general report of the secretariat and ultimately adopted in the conference. He also stressed upon the need for fighting the menace of contractorisation in oil sector.