Strike hits Schlumberger's India operations

Vol 5, PW 24 (30 Jan 02) Exploration & Production

SCHLUMBERGER IS facing the prospect of serious labour unrest from within, with the company's offshore workers in Mumbai and Baroda beginning an indefinite strike on 14th January, while at Rajahmundry workers are on a 'go-slow' ahead of joining the strike.

A source tells this report that logging and perforation work on 28 offshore rigs have been hit. Most are with ONGC, while Trident 12 and C.

E. Thornton are with Cairn Energy and Enron respectively.

Are the workers on strike for more pay "Certainly not! We are only asking the management to take back five colleagues." For months Schlumberger workers have been threatening an indefinite strike to demand the reinstatement of five colleagues suspended from service on 5th July 2000. Why were they suspended Because they left an 'internal' union and joined a union affiliated to the militant Hindu Shiv Sena party.

In India Shiv Sena unions have a reputation for violence, in line with the party's slash-and-burn politics. "A Shiv Sena union is the best way to get our demands met," a worker tells us.

The mood among striking workers is high. Every day they sit outside the gates of Schlumberger's Mumbai office, while administrative and management staff are brought to work under police escort.

Schlumberger officials were unavailable for comment.