Indian trukers strike enters eighth day

A strike by tens of thousands of Indian truckers entered its eighth day on Monday after some key union officers were arrested.

Indian trukers strike enters eighth day

A strike by tens of thousands of Indian truckers entered its eighth day on Monday after some key union officers were arrested, but deliveries of essential goods and commodities resumed in several states.

The federal transport minister was expected to hold talks on Monday with states to assess the impact of the strike, which nudged up prices of fruits and vegetables and some commodities after deliveries to warehouses slowed to a trickle.

But the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), which represents about six million trucks, said it had not been invited to talks.

"With the arrest of the president and other leaders, how can there be any talks?" said P. Gopal Naidu, the vice president.

The striking truckers are calling for cuts in taxes, tolls and diesel prices as they struggle with waning demand in a slowing economy.

On Monday, the junior oil minister said India planned to cut fuel prices in 10 days. Fuel prices were last cut on Dec. 6.

In western Maharashtra state, unions representing smaller vehicles called off their strike, resuming supplies of fruits, vegetables and other perishable goods, but inter-state transport remained suspended, a spokesman said.

"Transport of industrial goods and inter-state transport by bigger trucks is at a standstill," said Mahendra Arya of the Bombay Goods Transport Association, which is affiliated to AIMTC.

Inter-state transport had resumed in some parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan states, local media said.

More than 70 percent of freight in India moves by road, and truckers had benefited from a booming economy.

But the Indian economy, Asia's third-largest, has showed signs of slowing amid the global financial crisis after growing at about 9 percent or more in the past three years.

An industry survey at the weekend showed business confidence sank to a seven-year low, with most corporates fearing a further weakening in the overall economic condition. See [ID:nDEL418353]

While the truckers' strike is expected to disrupt supplies for manufacturing and construction, it is likely to have only a limited impact on inflation, which is at a 10-month low.

A three-day truckers' strike last July pushed up prices of produce, and a week-long strike in 2004 slowed industrial growth.

India last week also reeled from a strike by oil sector workers, which delayed flights and forced taxis off the streets.

That strike ended on its third day on Friday after the government called in troops to load tankers and threatened to imprison union leaders.

Labour activism, particularly in state-controlled sectors, is seen ticking up ahead of national elections due by May.

Reuters
Last Mod: 13 Ocak 2009, 11:10
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