IOC’s LPG transporters in NE go on strike

GUWAHATI, Aug 28: An association of LPG transporters in the Northeast on Thursday went on an indefinite strike against the latest tender floated by PSU giant Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).

The North East Packed LPG Transporter Association (NEPLTA), which transports cylinders from the bottling plants to the dealers, is protesting against, among other things, the floating of the tender from Kolkata instead of Guwahati, lowering of the existing rates and increasing the carrying capacity.

Because of the strike loading and supplying of finished cylinders from the company’s 10 bottling plants have been affected and is likely to impact the stock at retail selling points of the distributors in coming days, sources said.

IOC currently rolls out around 1.5 lakh cylinders every day for its customers across the Northeast. It has around 850 distributors in the region.

Responding to an email query sent by PTI, it said, “As on date, no strike notice has been received by us and with LPG being an essential commodity, going on strike without any notice will be going against the law.”

The oil major also stated that currently there is no shortage of domestic LPG in the market and that it “reiterates its commitment of ensuring uninterrupted LPG supplies” despite all challenges.

The NEPLTA operates around 1,400 trucks to transport LPG cylinders from the IOC’s bottling plants to various distributors across Assam.

The association had submitted a memorandum on 24 August, stating that the new tender rate is lower than the existing base rate, and urged the PSU to re-estimate it by taking into account the enhanced fuel prices, taxes and maintenance of the trucks.

“We prefer to carry only 306 cylinders instead of 324/342/357/360 in six-wheeler trucks because the road and geographical conditions are not good in the region and we do not agree to carry cylinders in 10-wheeler and multi-defencial trucks,” it added.

The association also protested against “discrimination” between the transporters and the dealers, who have their own trucks to carry the cylinders.

The NEPLTA had held a strike in 2018 on the same issues when the company had floated tenders from Kolkata. The association had gone to court over it and had later withdrawn the renewal of the contracts and extended the existing ones.

The 2018 tender had increased the period of contracts to five years from three years and the same has been done in this year’s bid too.

The IOC said it had called a meeting with the transporters on Wednesday and again on Thursday to discuss the concerns raised by them but they expressed their inability to attend the meeting due to various constraints. (PTI)