Contract labourers’ strike continues at Inamkulathur.

With no end in sight to the strike by the contract labourers at the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd.s (IOCL) LPG bottling plant at Inamkulathur on the outskirts of the city and the worsening cooking gas supply situation, the district administration has requested the public sector oil major to ensure adequate supply to the district to clear the huge backlog in waiting list.

The strike by the contract labourers, seeking additional staff for the second filling line that was commissioned at the bottling plant recently, has created a huge backlog in supply of refills in the central districts.

The shortage has turned acute as the labourers are on strike since March 20. Several rounds of talks between the IOCL management and the contract labourers unions in the presence of labour officials have failed to break the deadlock so far.

The bottling plant has been producing 21,400 LPG refills a day from one filling line and its capacity was doubled with the commissioning of the second filling line on March 18. The output from the plant has stopped because of the strike.

While the union is demanding 80 people, up from the existing 74, IOC sources say the workforce at the unit was in line with its national benchmark and its other bottling units were working with the same workforce as here. With both sides sticking to their positions, lakhs of consumers in Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, and Nagapattinam districts have been affected badly.

Given the extensive load shedding and the looming drinking water shortage, the LPG shortage could not have come at a worse time for the people of the districts. Many consumers have already been denied their full quota of nine cylinders for the financial year ending March 31. Consumers with single cylinders are the worst hit.

In Tiruchi district alone, nearly a lakh of consumers are on the waiting list for refills.

The district authorities are worried over the severe short supply in cooking gas, given the rise in the backlog in waiting list.

Since last week, the district authorities have been in regular touch with the IOCL management keeping a tab on the situation and to urge them to find a way out of the problem.

IOCL officials say some supplies from other bottling plants have been sent here to ease the situation.

But this limited supply was inadequate, district officials point out, and have been seeking more supplies to meet the demand and avoid panic bookings.

When contacted, District Collector Jayashree Muralidharan said although the problem was essentially internal that has to be resolved by the internally by the IOCL management and the labour union, consumers should not be allowed to suffer.

“I have requested the IOCL officials to ensure adequate supply to tide over the situation. I have urged them to resolve the issue at the earliest,” she said.

Meanwhile, a group of LPG distributors took a group of about 43 delivery boys to the plant to request the IOCL to allow them to load the refills. But the labourers at the plant, it was alleged, did not agree to work with them.