No panic buying in Chennai despite oil officers’ strike

January 7th, 2009 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Jan 7 (IANS) There are no signs of panic buying of fuel or natural gas here in the wake of the indefinite nationwide strike by over 55,000 employees of 14 public sector oil companies, vendors said Wednesday, hours after the strike started.”We have not experienced any panic buying in our petrol/diesel vending unit at least till now. As usual our clients are filling up their tanks with fuel in their vehicles,” E. Shanmugham, who manages a fuel-vending unit in the centre of the city, told IANS.

Chennai Petroleum Corp (CPC) officials said their company was ensuring supplies despite the strike.

“Our supplies are going almost uninterrupted. The local police have accorded security to our convoys. There are no reports of shortages from our vendors,” a CPC official said.

Armed police vehicles were accompanying fuel trucks operating here, according to eyewitnesses.

S. Sridhar, a spokesman of the striking employees, said their strike was justified in all respects as their demands were simple.

“Our demands of proper rationalisation of pay-scales are simple and need-based. Earlier, the managements said continuing losses were the causes for our unreasonably low salaries. Now that the international prices of crude have come down and our balance sheets are better, why not consider our demands?” he asked angrily.

There are, however, other causes for concern in Tamil Nadu due to different manifestations of the same problem.

The ongoing three-day-old truckers’ strike, demanding reduction of taxes and fuel prices, has caused shortages of cooking gas in the southern parts of the state, affected people said.

“Cooking gas supplies have virtually dried up for the past fortnight as some strike or another has been going on (in Tamil Nadu) by tanker-lorries, trucks and so on. We had placed our orders for our gas cylinder 22 days ago and are yet to hear from our suppliers,” said V. Keerthivasan, a retired bureaucrat from Tirunelveli, 600 km south of here, on phone.

“There is some liquid fuel shortage as well, though not acute,” he added.

Meanwhile, D. Dandapani, a poultry farm owner from Namakkal - a town famous for its huge production of eggs and several units for building commercial vehicles - said over 50 million eggs were lying piled up in their warehouses due to the truckers’ strike.

“If the strike continues, we will be ruined as we cannot stop the birds from laying eggs - that may start rotting, necessitating their destruction. Their prices may increase in the retail market, but we will be left in straitened circumstances,” he said on phone from Namakkal, located 300 km southwest of here.

A spokesman for the truckers’ unions said the unrest would continue till the demands were met.

“Price rises affect us more than others but we are the last in the priorities of the government in terms of redress and the first to be milked. This time we are not giving in unless our demands are met completely,” he said.

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