In what could add to the worries of Indane consumers in the city, many cooking gas agencies went without supplies on Friday over the issue of enhanced wages for workers who load and unload cylinders at the distributors’ godowns.
It was a case of so near, yet so far. Though many truck loads despatched from the Ennore bottling plant reached godowns in the city, the cylinders could not be unloaded in view of the payment issue, said A. Ramachandran, Chennai Area president of All India Indane Distributors Association.
Holding the transporters responsible, he said, many trucks were parked near godowns, while some went back with the load (a little over 300 cylinders make a truck load).
An estimated 30 trucks operated by the distributors were the ones that supplied cylinders on Friday. For others, including those with trucks, supply remains a cause of concern since Monday. While regular supplies from the plant were affected for the first two days of the week due to a strike by truck drivers, Wednesday was a government holiday. On Thursday, the bandh and wage payment to workers impacted the usual supplies.
At the core, is the demand of unorganised workers for more wages. They unload filled cylinders and stack empty cylinders on the trucks at the godowns. The truckers, on contract with the bottling plant, are not willing to meet their demand and allegedly want the distributors to incur the additional expenditure.
The plight of distributors attached to the bottling plant of Indian Oil Tanking Limited in Manali, according to sources, is no better as the facility has not been receiving adequate LPG for sometime now.
Confirming that the responsibility of loading and unloading cylinders is part of the transportation contract, sources at Indian Oil Corporation said truckers were aware of this, and had been asked, time and again, to fulfil the contractual obligation.
A similar situation, which could increase the wait time of households for refill cylinders, arose last month. The transporters then had sought more time.
The backlog of refill cylinders to be supplied, by many distributors, is around 20 days now. The demand is only expected to increase in the next few months on account of festivals and weather change.
Sources at IOC said such supply disturbances could not only trigger State government action, but also affect bottling at Ennore as turnaround of cylinders is essential for the operations.
The backlog of refill cylinders to be supplied by many distributors is around 20 days now