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As employees gear up for `direct action' — ONGC gets injunction against strike

Our Bureau

Mumbai , Aug. 12

EVEN while the employees of ONGC were gearing up for "direct action" in protest against the death of employees in the helicopter crash on Monday, the company management was able to procure an injunction from the Mumbai High Court on Tuesday, restraining the employees from resorting to a strike.

The ONGC management had sought the injunction from the court on the ground that it has not been served with any strike notice.

The other two grounds were that the strike would affect oil and gas supplies in the country and jeopardise the safety and security of the companies various installations.

The ONGC management had chosen to move the court for an injunction as it expected the agitated employees to go on strike.

Attributing the helicopter crash to lack of proper safety and security measures undertaken by the management of company, the Association of Scientific and Technical Officers (ASTO), Petroleum Employees Union and Karmachari Sanghatna have joined hands to launch a direct action from Wednesday, which could affect all operations in the offshore fields and base offices till their six-point charter of demands were settled.

The demands include immediate enquiry of the incident by CBI and to place the company's Chairman-and-Managing Director, Mr Subir Raha, under suspension, payment of cash compensation of Rs 25 lakh (apart from all admissible death claims) to each of the families of the deceased employees and provision of one job to the family member of each of the deceased employee.

The other general demands included review of the offshore logistics and transport contracts with a focus on replacement of old and outdated helicopters, immediate recruitment of working level manpower and waiver of income-tax on offshore compensation allowances.

Replying to the charter of demands at a news conference later in the evening, Mr Subir Raha said that as regards their demands of a CBI probe and his suspension, the matter was "not in my hands and these are the prerogatives of the Government."

In regard to the tax rebate sought by ASTO, he pointed out that the management had initiated the move to bring the matter before the Petroleum and Finance Ministries.

Responding to the demand for a job to the family member of each of the deceased, he said the company has agreed to this and was willing to consider any other specific help that the family members of the deceased may seek.

Earlier in the day, the car of Mr Subir Raha was smashed by some agitated employees, when it was parked at the Juhu Heli-pad.

The ONGC management sought to strike a conciliatory note by appealing to its employees not to resort to a strike, although the August 11 incident was sad and unfortunate.

The management has pointed out to its employees that "in the context of ongoing terrorism and insurgency in certain areas of our country, we have been strongly advised to ensure maximum precautions, especially in Assam,

Gujarat and offshore during this period of Independence Day celebrations and any disruption in ONGC's operations may actually facilitate the subversive elements.

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