End strike or face action, minister tells fair price shops

Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao on Wednesday asked the Karnataka State Government Fair Price Shop Dealers’ Association to withdraw their strike or face action.

Speaking to mediapersons in Bangalore, Rao said the strike by the association was unjust as the government had increased the commission to the fair price shop dealers recently. “We will not budge. If they do not withdraw their strike we will take action.”

 While the minister was not specific on the kind of action that would be initiated, an official of the department said it could include revoking the licences of the shops.For consumers the strike translates into no provisions for the month of July.

The shops will be open but no provisions will be available as the association, with 20,503 members, has threatened that they will not lift the subsidised food grains for July including rice at Re one per kg under the Annabhagya scheme.

The association president T Krishnappa said the government should pay the same commission to fair price shop owners as paid to wholesale dealers. While fair price shop owners are paid a commission of Rs five per quintal of rice, the wholesale dealers get Rs 16 per quintal.

Krishnappa said the government had passed an order that fair price shop employees should work for 12 hours a day (between 8 am and 8 pm) but at the same time had not increased their commission.

“Let the government extend the same norm to its employees. It is no joke to work for 12 hours for a pittance,” he said. The association is also against the move of the department to link voters ID card with ration card of the beneficiaries.

It is also opposing the department’s move to open fair price counters in Food World outlets.

Krishnappa said the strike was legal as the association had given prior intimation to the government.

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