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Pension plea by retired oil company employees

Former employees of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) have appealed for pension and other benefits, since the schemes were introduced after they retired from the company.

Prasun Choudhuri, former public relations officer of IOC and sports commentator, is one of the 80-odd officers who retired nearly 20 years ago. He did not get any retirement benefits — no pension, no profit-sharing, not much provident fund either — that employees are usually entitled to. IOC introduced the pension scheme in 1987 and other benefits in 1995, including company shares allotment to employees.

These employees have appealed to the company to treat their case “sympathetically” and provide them with some benefits “out of mercy.” They even cited instances of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), which have given ex-gratia to employees who served them in the formative years.

Some retired officers, such as J.L. Bhattacharya, a former station superintendent (aviation), B.M. Moitra and B. Mukherjee, have died fighting for the cause. Some, like U.S. Dutta, a retired senior manager, are continuing the battle under the banner of Indian Oil Corporation Retired Officers Association.

“Hapless retired officers like myself are living miserably. We have appealed to the IOC to help us at a time when we are finding it difficult to get two square meals,” said Choudhuri.

The matter has finally been taken up by the minister of state for social justice and empowerment S.B. Mookerjee, who has urged both the IOC top brass and the minister for petroleum and natural gas Ram Naik, to intervene. “I feel that they (the retired officers) deserve better treatment and on humanitarian grounds be given some ex-gratia payment. I hope you will look into the matter and do the needful,” Mookerjee wrote to minister Naik.

When contacted, chief communications manager of IOC Deepak Bose said the company had always cared for its employees and that “it was unfortunate that several officers had retired before the company initiated the benefit schemes.” He, however, promised to inquire into the matter and find out what the IOC top brass was planning for the aggrieved former workers.

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