New Delhi: The Government today contemplated taking tough action, which includes invoking the National Security Act (NSA), against an ‘adamant´ union of oil PSU executives, which pressed for an indefinite strike on Wednesday and refused a dialogue on demand for higher wages.
Petroleum Secretary R S Pandey wrote to PSU heads on taking stringent action under ESMA and the NSA and initiating contempt of court proceedings against the Oil Sector Officers Association (OSOA) leadership, which has at least on two occasions failed to turn up for talks with Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, official sources said.
The Delhi High Court had stayed a strike in any of the three oil-marketing companies -- IOC, BPCL and HPCL -- while a similar stay is being sought by gas marketer GAIL India.
The OSOA, led by Amit Kumar, is adamant on the strike despite the group, headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram, agreeing to give its report on officers’ demands in 30 days.
As the ministry talked tough, oil PSU heads like GAIL Chairman U D Choubey appealed to officers against resorting to strike when the nation was faced with a worsening economic crisis and external threats like terrorist attacks.
Sources said Pandey has asked oil PSUs to initiate disciplinary action like suspension and prepare a contingency plan to keep operations running with the help of employees who are not part of the agitation, and the Territorial Army.
A strike in the oil sector can bring aviation services to a standstill within minutes and cripple auto and cooking fuel supplies if it lasts for two days.
A Home Ministry circular of 1982 classified operations in oilfields and refineries, and fuel distribution as ‘essential services´ and a strike in these areas can be dealt with under the National Security Act, 1980.