Housewives of Budge Budge and Mahestala, on the southern fringes of the city, are facing a crisis due to a delay in the supply of cooking gas by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
The delay has been caused by a strike by contractors’ labourers at IOC’s bottling plant at Budge Budge since February 7.
Trouble started when the agency sacked some security staff, after which the labourers stopped work in protest. The strike was organised by Indian Oil Casual Labourers’ Federation, affiliated to Citu.
Leader of the Federation Ratan Bagchi said the contractors sacked 24 security staff “without furnishing any reason”. “It is shocking that the contractors told them, over the microphone, not to continue their work as their services had been terminated,” Bagchi added.
The contractor has also suggested a further reduction of staff and a 10 per cent deduction in salary. “All these labourers get paltry salaries, which is quite inadequate to run a family,” Bagchi said. “We know that the movement will hamper production, but we have no alternative but to resort to a continuous strike,” he added.
He alleged that currently, to show the movement in bad light and cast a slur shadow on the labourers, the IOC has stopped supplying gas to local agencies to create an artificial crisis.
“The IOC is supplying gas to the agents in Behala, Shakuntala Park and other areas, but surprisingly, not to some local agents. However, we are neither hindering any workers from joining their duties, nor are we creating any obstacle to the movement of trucks. Our strike is quite spontaneous and peaceful. We will continue our movement till the workers get back their jobs,” Bagchi added.
On the other hand, Deepak Bose, IOC chief corporate communications manager, said on Tuesday that work was hampered as the agency engaged by the IOC has made some changes in the security arrangements.
“We have informed the government about the situation, to avert any unpleasant situation. The trucks are lying idle at the bottling plant, as the labourers are not working,” Bose said.
He added that the IOC was, however, trying to keep the supply normal by bringing in gas from Durgapur, Kalyani and other facilities. “There may be some disturbance in the supply, but it is not serious,” Bose added.
Meanwhile, in view of the strike, the police are keeping a strict vigil to ensure that no untoward incident brews.
Additional superintendent of police (Industrial) South 24-Parganas Rajesh Kumar Singh said that help, if required, would be given as and when the IOC authorities seek it.