Southern districts in the State will face shortage of Indane cooking gas in the coming days as contract transport workers attached to the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottling plant of the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOC) at Paripally near here have decided to revive their strike demanding bonus. The unions of the transport workers gave notice to the IOC management and the labour office that the workers will go on indefinite strike from October 18. The unions took the decision to strike work again when talks called by the Labour Commissioner here on Friday to sort out the issue drew a blank.

President of the CITU affiliated LPG Motor Workers Union V. Ganesh and secretary S. Shudhirkumar told The Hindu that under the banner of a Joint Samara Samithi comprising the INTUC and the BMS unions they had sent the strike notice to the labour office and IOC management.

The spade work for the indefinite strike will begin from Saturday with demonstrations in front of the plant on all days till October 18. The workers would organise a human chain with their family members at Paripally junction and hold a fast there as a prelude to the strike, Mr. Sudhir Kumar said. At the same time, Regional Labour Commissioner A.K. Sreehari said that though inconclusive, the talks on Friday were a success. He said the labour office had not received any strike notice. Another round of talks had been scheduled for October 17 since the truck owners had asked for some more time to sort out the problem.

Mr. Sudhir Kumar said that Friday’s talks were nothing but a cosmetic exercise . He, however, said the unions would be attending the talks on October 17 .

Earlier during the Onam season the workers had gone on strike for five days demanding bonus of Rs. 10,000 for drivers and Rs.5,000 for cleaners from the lorry owners on contract with the IOC. They are workers of the trucks transporting filled LPG cylinders from the Paripally plant to the godowns of distributing agents and the empty cylinders back to the plant.

They withdrew the strike on the night of September 14 when District Collector B. Mohanan confirmed receipt of a formal agreement from IOC assuring payment of Rs.22.05 lakh on the next bank working day as advance payment to truck owners to be used for settling the issue.

But the money was paid as festival advance to the workers on condition that it would be deducted from their salaries during the following months. The workers had accepted the payment but now insisted that it was bonus and the truck owners denied it. Last year the drivers were paid a bonus of Rs.10,000 and the cleaners Rs.5,000.

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