Unionized truckers in India have called for an indefinite work stoppage starting at midnight March 31 to protest against deregulation of fuel prices and a steep hike in insurance premiums.
Operators, under the aegis of the All India Motor Transport Congress, are also demanding a review of toll rates, withdrawal of anti-dumping duty on imported tires, “industry status” approval for the road sector, fixing of minimum trucking rates and a government crackdown on illegal trucking companies.
“We would be forced to keep our 7.5 million trucks off the roads if the government fails to address our demands by March 30,” union representatives said. “The nationwide indefinite strike, as per our estimates, would cost the economy Rs 2,200 crore (about $400 million) a day.”
Trucking unions have vowed to suspend operations until their demands are met by the government, threatening to paralyze freight movements across the country. A prolonged stoppage is expected to have a serious adverse impact on the movement of containerized cargo to and from gateway ports, as a sizeable portion of hinterland traffic is carried by long-haul operators.
“We have held several rounds of talks with officials in the Transport Ministry, but there is no positive outcome,” union leaders said.
The planned action follows a 48-hour nationwide general strike by all major trade unions last month to protest the government’s labor policies. That strike shut down cargo terminals at several key ports, including Nhava Sheva and Mumbai.