Filling station owners say sales have dropped to merely 10-15 percent nowadays
Md Younus Ali can hardly sleep these days.
After hearing of rumours that his job would be cut, the 45-year-old worker of a fuel oil supply facility on the Narayanganj-Munshiganj Highway is stressed out on supporting his family during the coronavirus crisis.
He has been working there for years, but sales at the facility – Navana Filling Station – dropped to about merely 15 percent recently because transports have thinned out amid the countrywide shutdown.
More than 65,000 workers, like Younus, engaged in the oil supply chain – both in roads and waterways – across the country are sensing a similar fear of job loss.
Leaders of the filling station workers have called on the owners to not cut the jobs of their labourers.
Rezaul Karim Reza, general secretary of Bangladesh Tank Lorry Labour Federation, said they urged the petrol pump owners to prove support to workers during the ongoing crisis.
"Most of the owners are taking the responsibility of their workers but some are not," said Reza.
At present, the country has over 2,800 filling stations, according to the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) data. The number of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) filling stations is more than 500.
Leaders of the Petrol Pump Owners' Association and officials of CNG conversion and filling stations said that there have been no job cuts yet.
Sajjadul Korim Kabul, president of Petrol Pump Owners' Association, said they were taking care of their workers.
"We have arranged makeshift houses at pump areas for workers and are providing them with basic health accessories as well as regular wages," said Kabul.
He, nevertheless, cast doubt on how long they would be able to bear the costs.
Filling station owners said a large station (one with daily sales of Tk30 lakh) has to keep a total of 15 staff for three shifts. Monthly cost of such a station is around Tk5-5.30 lakh, including staff salaries and maintenance.
But now, bearing the cost has become difficult for the owners as sales have dropped to merely 10-15 percent nowadays compared to normal times.
In spite of that, owners of petrol pumps and CNG stations are suggesting each other to take the responsibilities of their staff.
Farhan Noor, general secretary of CNG Filling Station and Conversion Workshop Owners Association, said that he requested their members to play the role of a guardian during this period.
Workers of oil carrying vessels on waterways are also afraid of losing jobs and earnings.
There are around 2,700 people working in oil carrying tankers under the Bangladesh Petroleum Tanker Owners' Association.
However, the employers said the crisis would not hit their workers as the government keeps supplying oil to the other depots across the country through private ships.
Zahirul Quayum, director of Portland Group which has five enlisted oil carrying ships, said they were ensuring their workers security during this crisis.
"Due to the shutdown, oil demand and supply drastically fell as industries remain shut. Despite that, we are continuing with our staff, and they will be with us whatever the situation becomes," said Zahirul.