New Delhi: Union minister for heavy industries and public enterprises Sontosh Mohan Dev on Tuesday said he is in favour of a salary increase for executives of public sector undertakings (PSUs), some of which have witnessed industrial action by employees for higher pay.
Dev said his ministry would move a cabinet note after receiving the recommendations of a group of ministers (GoM) that debated the issue.
The GoM is headed by home minister P. Chidambaram and has petroleum minister Murli Deora, minister of state for finance P.K. Bansal and Dev as members.
“We are taking a look at the pay revision of all PSUs and not only the oil sector PSUs... Why should they not be paid more? After we receive the GoM report, I will take it to the Prime Minister, shortly after which we will move a cabinet note for the cabinet’s decision on the same, as we are the nodal ministry appointed for this,” Dev told reporters in New Delhi.
The government is trying to prevent any further strikes— similar to what was attempted by workers of state-owned oil companies that had crippled power, fertilizer, steel and aviation companies in December—before general elections fall due by May.
A three-day strike spearheaded by the Oil Sector Officers’ Association—an umbrella group that was demanding a pay increase for the 55,000 employees in the sector—in December triggered nation-wide shortages of petroleum products such as petrol and diesel.
The situation could have become far worse if officers of NTPC Ltd, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd and NHPC Ltd, among others, had joined it.
The ministries of power, and petroleum and natural gas together account for the single largest chunk of public sector employees.
In matters relating to PSUs, the ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises handles general administrative matters, including salaries.
Dev said the cabinet note would be moved before the Election Commission of India’s model code of conduct comes into effect, which happens once the general elections—likely to be held in April-May—are announced.