Indian truck, bus drivers to strike over diesel prices

AFP, Tuesday 18 Sep 2012

Truck and bus drivers in India plan Thursday strike to protest skyrocketing local prices of diesel fuel

Tens of thousands of Indian truck and bus drivers are to go on strike on Thursday after the country's top transport union announced a stoppage to protest a recent hike in the price of diesel.

The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), which represents about 11.5 million truckers, transporters and bus operators, also threatened an indefinite strike if its demand for a rollback of the price hike is not met.

"We are going on a one-day strike starting from the midnight on Wednesday. We want to let the country know what this government has done to us by raising the prices," Gurinder Pal Singh, a senior AIMTC member, told AFP.

"We will wait and watch for the next five to 10 days. If there is no rollback, we will go on an indefinite strike," he said.

Singh expected nearly 75 per cent of all cargo and passenger transport workers to take part in the protest on Thursday.

The Indian government hiked the price of diesel by 12 per cent last week despite protests from the opposition and its own coalition allies, saying it was a tough decision that had to be taken.

India buys in around 80 per cent of its oil and the import bill has risen dramatically because of high global prices and a plunging rupee.

The high cost of imported fuel has been partly blamed for the worsening of India's public finances.

In addition to the transport strike the government faces the prospect of a nationwide shutdown on Thursday, called for by opposition parties and some prominent trade unions opposed to the opening up of the retail sector to foreign supermarkets.

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