In an attempt to settle the indefinite strike by contract transport workers attached to the LPG (Indane) bottling plant of the Indian Oil Corporation at Paripally near here, District Collector B. Mohanan will hold talks on Saturday with representatives of the truck owners, IOC officials and trade union leaders in the presence of Labour Department officials.

It is from the Paripally plant that Indane LPG cylinders are supplied to gas agents in the districts of Thriuvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha and parts of Idukki and Kottayam districts. As the strike entered the fifth day on Friday, Indane cylinders are fast running out of stock in these areas. Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts are the worst hit.

The workers are on strike demanding bonus.

Mr. Mohanan was hopeful that a settlement could be worked out through the talks which are scheduled at 11 a.m.

Saturday’s will be the 16th round of talks on the issue which began during the Onam festival season last month. The workers comprise truck drivers and cleaners. They operate private trucks which are also on contract with the IOC. These trucks are owned by various persons.

On grounds that the drivers were paid a bonus of Rs.10,000 and the cleaners Rs.5,000 last year, the workers this year demanded a bonus of Rs.15,000 for the drivers and Rs.7,500 for the cleaners. But the truck owners insist on providing only statutory bonus of Rs.3,500 to the drivers and Rs.1,500 to the cleaners. There are 129 drivers and 57 cleaners attached to the plant.

The strike is being led by a joint agitation council led by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the Indian National Trade Union Congress and the Bharatheeya Mazdoor Sangh. District president of the CITU affiliated LPG Workers Union V. Ganesh said that as part of a genuine move to find an amicable settlement to the strike, the workers had reduced their bonus demand to Rs.10,500 for the drivers and Rs.5,250 for the cleaners. Even then the truck owners were not willing to settle the issue, he said.

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