Petrol pumps threaten to remain shut on Sundays from May
Petrol pump owners want an eight-hour, six-day work schedule for their employees, saying it is getting difficult to employ staff for longer hours without an increase in their margins.
Besides, they want petrol stations to be closed on Sundays in line with the government’s push for lesser consumption of fossil fuel as part of a green initiative.
They said the two steps should be implemented from May 10.
Fuel stations across the country employ roughly 500,000 employees, including 100,000 temporary contractual workers.
The owners said if the margins — cuts the dealers get for each litre of fuel sold — were not increased they would be forced to sack the temporary staff.
The dealer commission on petrol is Rs 2.56 a litre and Rs 1.65 for diesel, at present. The dealers demanded a hike, underlining that the current margins are insufficient to meet operating costs.
The Consortium of Indian Petroleum Dealers (CIPD) said the twin moves will reduce consumption by 25% in a country that depends heavily on fuel imports.
However, petrol stations will make fuel available for emergency services such as ambulances on weekend holidays and during non-working hours on weekdays.
“The measures would enable pump owners cut costs. We don’t see any major disruption if these steps are implemented,” a member of the dealer’s association said.
He explained that people can fill up their car tanks a day before the holiday or within the eight-hour period. “It is just a question of adjusting to the new routine.”
Questions remained, though. What happens to travelers who might need to tank up on a Sunday or at a time beyond the stipulated working hours of petrol stations?
Oil marketing companies or the government might not allow the changes.
“It is not a final decision and it is unlikely that such as a decision will be implemented. The government or the oil marketing companies may intervene,” an industry insider said.
The companies and dealers would incur losses running into thousands of crores if the twin moves were implemented, he warned.
In January, the government intervened when the dealers threatened not to accept payments through plastic money over a bank surcharge on them. The government’s wishes prevailed.
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