State-owned fuel retailers appeal to dealers not to go on strike
Mumbai: State-owned fuel retailers on Tuesday requested their dealers not to go ahead with a planned strike on 13 October.
Their demands include upward revision of dealer margins every six months, resolution of manpower issues and inclusion of petrol and diesel under goods and services tax (GST).
At a joint press conference in Mumbai, officials of Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL) said the strike would inconvenience commuters.
“We have appealed to the dealers explaining the sensitivity of the situation and asked them not to resort to such a measure. Their interests are being taken care of and a few residual issues will be addressed too,” said B.S. Canth, director, marketing of IOCL at a joint press meet by the three OMCs in Mumbai.
Last week, the United Petroleum Front announced nationwide strike of dealers on 13 October seeking fulfilment of various demands and a further call of indefinite closure from 27 October.
The three OMCs together run 54,000 fuel retail outlets, of which they own and operate 1,000.
“OMCs have been interacting with the dealers fraternity regularly. During these engagements, especially in the last two years, most of their demands have been met successfully,” a joint statement issued by the OMCs said.
OMCs claim they have revised dealer margins four times in the last 13 months. But dealers are unhappy with the marketing discipline guidelines (MDG) introduced by OMCs on 2 October. Under these guidelines, dealers will be fined up to Rs2 lakh if they are found indulging in deliberate malpractices with respect of tampering with machinery and delivery systems. MDG also imposes penalty on non-payment of minimum wages to employees at the fuel dealership, which has been factored in the dealer commission.
OMCs said fuel dealers are also seeking a reconsideration of the daily price change mechanism, since they don’t find it benefitting consumers of the dealers. Daily fuel pricing was introduced from 16 June of this year. OMCs said daily pricing is to bring in increased transparency and price movement in line with international prices, benefitting consumers.
Dealers have also raised concerns with regard to home delivery of fuel to consumers. “Though this initiative is being proposed by OMCs, in the consumers’ interest, it would be undertaken only after approval from PESO (petroleum explosives safety organisation) is received and safety precautions are put in place,” added Canth.
“It is apparent that these issues raised by the dealers do not warrant a drastic action like strikes or closure of supplies, which would inconvenience daily commuters and impact all essential services, especially during the ongoing festive season. OMCs have always been sensitive to all issues of the dealer federations and would once again advise them against taking such uncalled for measures,” the OMCs added.
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