Anger grows at ONGC promotion policy

Vol 27, PW 1 (11 Jan 24) People & Policy

ONGC officers are protesting against a new rule introduced on December 26 (2023) that significantly increases competition for senior promotions.

Under the rule, only 75% of senior officers will be promoted to manager rank every year, and 75% of managers to senior managers (E4). Those passed over for promotion each year must hope their turn comes up the following year.

Aimed at streamlining ONGC, the move is a significant departure from the old regime under which officers could count on their promotion every four or five years like clockwork. Senior-level corporate promotions from DGM to CGM have not been announced this year.

Chairman Arun Singh's introduction of the new policy has left senior E2-level officers and E3-level managers disappointed, even angry. ONGC officers feel their treatment is no longer equal to that of other state-owned oil companies, where promotions are faster.

"This new policy will make things worse for ONGC officers," says an ONGC manager. "Unlike those serving in IndianOil or other oil PSUs."

Another source adds that even graduate trainees at ONGC have begun leaving for other state-owned companies. Battle lines are also emerging between two organisations that represent ONGC officers: the ONGC Officer Association (OOA), a formally recognised trade union affiliated with the umbrella Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) union, and the Association of Scientific and Technical Officers (ASTO).

Registered in 2004, the OOA was in talks with management for a few years but was sidelined by management, which preferred bilateral meetings with ASTO and ignored the OOA. Now, officers increasingly feel ASTO is not doing enough to challenge management.

"In three days (in early January 2024), 400 officers joined OOA, realising that ASTO has done nothing for them," George Ravi Shekeran M, general secretary, OOA central executive committee, tells this report. "More and more young officers are joining; we already have 2400 members."

On January 5 (2024), nearly 100 officers participated in a five-hour-long online meeting held by OOA to discuss future action. They debated the need to increase membership and bring in union representatives from other companies to pressure chairman Singh.

During the meeting, this report observed participants impatient to speak, and it took nearly an hour to wrap up the meeting because so many voices were clamouring to be heard.