Indian Oil Tankers Union has announced an indefinite strike from December 28 to press for the implementation of its long-pending demands. As a result, 850 tankers transporting supplies of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) will stay off roads from Friday.
The strike is expected to disrupt supply of petrol and diesel in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Rajasthan.
The union has been demanding equal distribution of work between petrol pump dealers and transporters. It also wants a recent notification of IOC that allows the company to demand tankers from dealers, without calling tenders, to be scrapped.
"We are demanding payment of enhanced rent to tanker owners for carrying fuel to neighboring states. A tanker owned by the dealer costs the IOC lakhs of Rs in a month. However, we are paid the same amount for deploying five-six tankers," said Ashok Sareen, the vice-president of union.
He alleged that IOC officials favoured dealers at their cost of transporters.
He added that union's three units located at Jalandhar, Bathinda and Sangrur were participating in the strike. He claimed that this was likely to impact supply of the aviation fuel to nearby airports, diesel to the railways and Punjab Roadways and petrol across the state and in neighbouring states Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan.
"Union members did hold a meeting with Rajya Sabha MP Avinash Rai Khanna and IOC deputy general manager at Chandigarh, RS Dahiya. However, no solution could be arrived at," said president of the union, Kishan Lal Sharma.
"We have taken loans from banks to set up our business. If the IOC fails to give us an equal opportunity to bid for work through tenders, our livelihood is directly affected. The company must annul its notification, allowing it to choose its transport without calling tenders," he added.
Sareen said that IOC had pressured other employees of dealers into not joining their strike. He claimed that the in spite of many meetings with central government representatives and IOC officials, no action had resulted.
When contacted, IOC deputy general manager RS Dahiya refused to comment on the issue. IOC terminal manager at Jalandhar Ranjan Srivastav said that he had no information on the strike.