Gangtok, 6 August 2012:
The strike called by the Janmukti Himalaya National Highway Driver Association against the domination of the owners and the contractors today entered the eighth day. The Association which has more than 150 trucks from Sikkim used to transport rice to the State, but with the strike problems have started cropping up.
The Association Spokesperson Dhan Kumar Pradhan informed that the trucks were on duty to bring rice from FCI go downs situated at New Jalpaiguri (NJP) to Rangpo and Jorethang FCI go downs. During the loading and the unloading process, kilos of rice get disfigured which is also mainly due to rain. The owners on the other hand without understanding the circumstances, blames and recovers it from the drivers said Pradhan.
When the load of the rice weights excess the owners does not worry about it, but in the above case they charge the drivers with the highest rice value in the market he added. The rice contractors too always threaten to throw them out of work when tiny mistakes occur said Pradhan.
The President of the Owners Association Madan Chettri accepting the allegations leveled against them clearly stated that they are strained to do so for the loss of the rice. The FCI contractors are also to be blamed on this as because they cut down our prices which in turn results the cutting of the same from the drivers. The Owners Association also said that they were about to increase the rates of the fair with the recent hike in the fuel prices but the Sikkim Nationalised Transport Department stopped lifting the load and approached the private contractors added Chettri.
To solve the concern many meetings between the three parties were held, but the contractors did not felt imperative to attend the meeting for which the owners now have decided to shore up the strike called by the drivers.