Oil transport companies join Indian truckers' strike

Business Materials 6 January 2009 17:23 (UTC +04:00)

A nationwide strike by Indian truckers entered its second day Tuesday despite government threats to impose an essential services maintenance law and cancel permits, reported dpa.

Oil and cooking gas transporters had joined the strike, a representative of the forum which organized for the strike said.

The All-India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) is demanding a 10- rupees-per-litre (20-US-cents) reduction in the price of diesel and and some service tax exemptions to help the sector deal with the economic slowdown.

The government has termed the demands as unreasonable.

"We will continue the strike till there is a favourable response from the government. Cooking gas and oil transporters have also joined our strike," Bombay Goods Transport Association general secretary Girish Agrawal was quoted as saying by PTI news agency.

Agrawal's association is a member of the AIMTC, but another forum of truckers unions, the All-India Confederation of Goods Vehicle Owners Association has decided not to join the strike.

Truck movement was affected Tuesday in the western Gujarat state, the northern states of Haryana and Punjab and in southern Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where the AIMTC has strong support. The impact has been limited in the rest of the country so far, news reports said.

If the strike continues it could push up inflation by 50 basis points due to shortages of perishable goods and panic buying by traders, Rajesh Shukla, a fellow at the New Delhi-based think tank National Council for Applied Economic Research, said.

The federal government claimed in a press statement that the strike had no adverse impact on supply of essential commodities according to the Department of Road Transport.

The press release added that state governments had been advised to take all possible measures to ensure that the supply of essential commodities was not disrupted.

The steps mentioned including invoking an essential supplies maintenance law, cancellation of permits of striking truckers and requisitioning trucks.

The Ministry of Railways had also been asked to ensure speedy movement of essential and perishable commodities.