Petrol pump dealers defer indefinite strike

The strike was postponed following Oil Minister Murli Deora's decision to form a committee to look into their demands, Federation of All-India Petroleum Traders (FAIPT) General Secretary Ajay Bansal said here.

"Regarding the demand for increasing the dealer's commission by making it a fixed percentage of the invoice value, a committee will be set up under the chairmanship of Joint Secretary (Marketing), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and comprising of director (marketing) of IOC, BPCL and HPCL," he said.

The decision to form the committee was taken during a meeting chaired by Deora on Friday. The committee, to which FAIPT will be a special invitee, will give its report in three months, he said.

"In view of this, the strike has been deferred by three months," he said. Earlier, several state petroleum traders' associations, including those in Mumbai, Delhi and Punjab, had decided to stay away from the proposed strike.

FAIPT, which claims to represent all of the 38,700 petrol pumps in the country, said it has been seeking a rise in dealers commission for the past two years, as the cost of maintaining retail stations has increased.

Staff wages, besides power and water tariffs, have increased and accordingly, the FAIPT demanded that they should be paid at least 5 per cent of the invoice value as commission instead of the present practice of paying a fixed margin.

The association's demand for a freeze on establishment of new pumps, which has eaten into the profitability of existing retail outlets, will also be looked into by the committee.

On the FAIPT's demand for an uniform price of petroleum products throughout the country, Deora will make an appeal to all state governments for rationalising local sales tax or VAT on petroleum products, Bansal said.

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