The Southern Region Bulk LPG Transport Operators Association called off its strike early Thursday.

“Though the second round of talks with oil marketing companies was not fruitful, we called off the strike at 3 a.m. on Thursday because we did not want consumers to suffer the consequences of our strike,” secretary of the association N.R. Karthik told The Hindu.

The association has been demanding higher transportation charge and induction of 552 new tankers.

According to him, the oil companies agreed to induct all 552 new trucks by Saturday (March 10), in addition to the 3,564 trucks already on road.

It was mutually agreed to discuss transportation charges and finalise them within 30 days (before April 7).

Rates issue

The rates could not be finalised in the second round of talks as the companies were not ready to offer more than Rs.2.50 per tonne per kilometre while the association demanded Rs.2.80.

With the strike ending, empty tankers stationed at loading points began filling LPG at 6 a.m. The empty tankers at the bottling plants are returning to the loading points, Mr. Karthik said.

According to him, the stock on wheels went completely dry by late on Wednesday, and further continuance of the strike would have hit the consumers hard the next few weeks.

“Nearly 70,000 tonnes of LPG got stagnated at the loading points since the strike began on the midnight of February 29.”

Marathon session

The talks, which began at 4 p.m. at Ezhilagam in Chennai on Wednesday, went on for nearly 11 hours. They were held in the presence of State Civil Supplies Commissioner Basheer Ahmed.

Mr. Karthik said that they discussed issues such as hike in drivers' salary, mounting cost of tyres, spares, toll charges and future escalation. “But, there was a difference of opinion among us (association and representatives of the oil companies) due to which the rates [for transporation] were not finalised.”