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 Pampered lot? Salary slips nail govt lie on oilmen

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PostSubject: Pampered lot? Salary slips nail govt lie on oilmen   Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:30 am

16 Jan 2009, 0427 hrs IST, Sanjay Dutta, TNN


NEW DELHI: After smashing the oil officers' strike, the government now appears determined to hang the dog after giving it a bad name — that is, project these officers as the most pampered lot and, therefore, deserving the harshest punishment for striking work.

Among the things let out by the government is that the starting salary of these officers is Rs 1 lakh and it goes up to Rs 3 lakh — an amount that does not justify their demand for even higher salaries, especially at a time when the economy is struggling to stay afloat.

The government contention is false. Not just that, it is aimed at creating a national "consensus" for a severe crackdown that would break the officers' back. This is why it has sacked over 70 officers, and with its motivated propaganda, created an atmosphere where the officers have no forum to present their case.

A few officers approached the TOI with trepidation to present certain facts. And they tell a very different story. Take the salary story, for instance.

This is the salary slip of a Grade B officer in an oil PSU, who is an engineer and an MBA to boot, with five years of service. Here's what the officer got this November — his gross salary came to Rs 38,772 and after deductions, he got a net salary (or take-home salary) of Rs 22,890. And in this case, the deductions were less as the officer has not taken any loan from the company.

The officer's salary slip reads like this — basic pay Rs 16,095, dearness allowance Rs 14,582, remote access facility Rs 966, professional updation Rs 1,100, cable connectivity Rs 200, recoverable advance Rs 5,825. If he had school-going children, he would be paid Rs 150 per month per child and some other allowances and perks of roughly Rs 4,500.

Against this, the officer's PF deduction was Rs 3,678, I-T Rs 7,307, profession tax Rs 200, superannuation recovery Rs 846, GSLI Rs 100, benevolent fund Rs 80, standard rent recovery Rs 250, vehicle loan Rs 2,878, vehicle loan interest Rs 426, vehicle loan redemption Rs 55, FOH recovery Rs 65, PC-on-hire recovery Rs 50, miller co-op society Rs 520 and less perk tax borne by BPCL, Rs 567.

So, he took home a little less than Rs 23,000. Now, compare this with what professionals of his qualification would be getting in the private sector. This is despite the fact that oil companies are among the most cash rich companies in the country. And this is also despite the fact that bureaucrats, teachers and others have all got hefty pay hikes.

No wonder, the officers — and employees of other ranks — are feeling low. The sense of demoralization has been aggravated by harsh words such as "terrorist and traitors" used to describe them during the strike. To be fair, many of the officers now feel the strike could probably have been avoided after the government set up a ministerial panel to look into their demands.

There are more reasons for their aggrievement. TOI had first reported in the run-up to the strike that the new scales mean hikes of only 15-18% against the government's claim of 100-300%. While the government says the officers have "misread" the proposed salary, the officers say they will have to actually pay back part of the money they received as interim relief after it is subsumed in the new scales.

The officers also say their pay revision was due in 2006 (after a 10-year wage freeze) but the new scales will be effective from the date the government notifies the new scales — which they have rejected — while for other Central staff the effective date for their new pay will be 2006, the time it was due.

The officers are also unhappy over lack of risk allowance — money to compensate for working under testing conditions and having to stay away from families for months. The officers say they are not asking for private sector salaries but a "decent" pay for their "contribution to the country's growth".

"Most of us, even after working for 20 years, take home a salary of not more than Rs 50,000 a month. A person with a private company with a similar experience gets a salary of at least Rs 3 lakh a month. We are not fighting for this salary but only a salary that will stop us from looking at something more lucrative," one officer said requesting anonymity.

The timing and method of the agitation, which nearly ground the country to a halt for three days, remains questionable. But had the government seriously acted on the issues on time and not dragged its feet for years, it could have been averted. In any case, it is certainly wrong to punish them now.


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