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Govt mulls longer lock-in period to protect jobs post BPCL privatization

Govt mulls longer lock-in period to protect jobs post BPCL privatization

To make the strategic sale of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) less painful to its employees, the government is looking at a plan to provide longer job security to them under the new management post privatisation of the company.

Sources said there is a suggestion that post transfer of BPCL to new owners, the jobs of all the company's existing employees should be protected for a period of three to five years. This would ensure that there is no retrenchment or layoffs during a defined period post the sale of the company.

Normally, in strategic sale proposals, the job guarantee clause or lock-in period is built for a maximum of one year. But given the sensitive nature of the sector in which the company operates and its strong staff strength of over 11,000 employees, the government is looking if job security could be provided for a longer period. Moreover, unlike previous strategic sale of loss-making or weaker entities, BPCL is a profit generating PSU with strong financials and assets.

"Changes would only be incorporated in the bid document after taking feedback from investors who have already posted several queries about the process. But in any case, jobs of all employees on the roll of the company at the time of privatisation would be protected," said the official sources.

BPCL has already opened a VRS scheme for employees that are willing to part ways before the company's privatisation. The company's notice, however, says that the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) has been offered keeping in mind the employees who may not be in a position to continue in service of the company due to various personal reasons.

The 'Bharat Petroleum Voluntary Retirement Scheme – 2020 (BPVRS-2020)' opened on July 23 and will close on August 13.

The disinvestment in BPCL involves the government selling its entire 52.98 per cent stake in the company to a strategic investor with transfer of management control. The government has barred PSUs from bidding for BPCL and expects private sector Indian players and global MNCs to bid for its stake. The government's stake in BPCL is worth around Rs 50,000 crore. The last date for expression of interest (EoI) for BPCL strategic sale has been extended thrice and is now stretched to September 30..