NAMAKKAL: Although major Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) companies, including Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum have filed a petition in the Madras High Court to stall the strike called by LPG tanker lorry owners, the latter has decided to go on an indefinite protest from 6 am on Monday. Meanwhile, general manager of IOC clarified that they were not planning to hold talks with the lorry owners again.
Once in five years, a State-wide tender will be floated to decide which company will take over the transportation of LPG from refineries to 53 bottling plants in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.
In 2018, when LPG producers made amendments in the tender floating process, it reportedly affected the work of over thousands of lorries. It was only after a nationwide strike was staged by the LPG lorry owners that a few amendments were made in the process and work orders were given to 4,800 lorries based in Namakkal. However, over 700 lorries were left out in the southern region.
Meanwhile, a general body meeting of the Southern Region Bulk LPG Transport Owners Association (SRBLPGTOA) was organised on June 20. There, they decided to go an indefinite strike from July 1.
However, the three major companies held talks with the SRBLPGTOA and assured to give work orders to a few lorries only. When the LPG lorry owners did not accept their deal, the oil companies moved the court against SRBLPGTOA’s decision. The case’s next hearing is slotted on Monday.
SRBLPGTOA’s president M Ponnambalam and secretary N R Karthick have confirmed that they would go on an indefinite strike as decided during their general body meeting. “Although several requests were made to get jobs for all, no action has been taken so far. Hence, we are forced to go on a strike as the lorry owners’ livelihood is at stake. These people cannot even use their vehicles to transport any other goods,” they said.
Asked about the supply of cylinders to consumers in the southern states, Karthick said that as all 53 bottling points, with 1,000 to 2,000 tonne capacity, had sufficient stock, there would be no problem for the next two weeks. As many as 4,800 tankers are likely to participate in the strike, he added.
Expressing no interest in holding another peace talk with the lorry owners, IOC general manager, Chennai, R Chidambaram told TNIE that he could not immediately accept all conditions of SRBLPGTOA. This was the main reason for them to move the court a couple of days ago.
“Although this strike will affect the work of a few distributors immediately, we cannot predict what will happen to cylinder movements in the days to come. We have no plans to hold peace talks with tanker lorry owners again but await the court order,” he said.