United Petroleum Front (UPF) announced nationwide strike of dealers on October 13 to press for various demands including better margins and inclusion of petroleum products in the Goods and Services Tax. It warned that if the demands were not met at the earliest, fuel dealers will be forced to stop, indefinitely, purchase and sale operations from October 27.
UPF represents over 54,000 dealers from the Federation of All-India Petroleum Traders, the All-India Petroleum Dealers Association and the Consortium of Indian Petroleum Dealers. The strike is to press for long-pending demands ignored by the state-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) since an agreement was signed last November, it said.
The demands include upward revision of the dealer margins every six months, better terms for return on investment, resolution of manpower issues, a fresh study of handling losses, and resolution of issues related to transportation and ethanol blending. The front alleged that the letters which it wrote to oil marketing companies as well as a letter from the Cabinet Secretariat dated June 28, did not elicit positive response.
Dealers also want the government to bring petrol and diesel under the GST regime. They are also upset with the marketing discipline guidelines announced by OMCs, which seek to penalise dealers for shortcomings up to Rs 2 lakh under a zero tolerance policy towards shortchanging of customers.
Fuel dealers are also opposed to the daily price mechanism introduced from July 1, saying it has benefited neither the consumers nor the dealers. They are also against, citing safety concerns, a proposal of the government to allow home delivery of oil products.