Mumbai: At least twenty State Transport (ST) buses began operating along the route between Malegaon and Nashik areas after few employees resumed work on Thursday. This brought relief to the commuters along the Nashik route on the fourth day of the ongoing (ST) bus strike.
The union workers went on an indefinite strike from October 16 onwards as they failed to receive a hike in the salary. Even as the buses were operating along the Nashik route, the commuters travelling to their hometown from other parts of Maharashtra continued to face inconvenience. At least 65 lakh passengers travel daily by ST buses. The passengers travelling to their hometown during the Diwali have faced huge inconvenience due to the bus strike.
The government has permitted private tour operators to ferry passengers. These tour operators have taken advantage of the situation and are charging exhorbitantly. “We are forced to use private buses, which are being operated by the Maharastra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), due to the strike. The private tour operators charge exorbitantly for routes between Mumbai to Pune and Mumbai to Naigaon. The fares are at least Rs 1,000 and they are charging Rs 2,000 for the same route,” said Avinash Kale, a resident of Dadar.
The workers have called for a ‘statewide’ strike as the State Transport (ST) body has failed to pay them their salary according to the seventh pay commission. The union workers decided to go on a strike as they failed to receive a hike in the salary. “We are a meeting between the management of MSRTC and the workers’ union. The decision to call off the strike would be taken once our demands are met,” said a member from the MSRTC workers union.
The MSRTC incurs almost Rs 450 crore losses annually. At least 18,000 buses are run on a daily basis and 65 lakh passenger travel daily by these buses. The officials said that the salary demands raised by the workers did not fit into their economic budget.
No solution in sight
The ongoing strike by Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) employees, who are demanding a pay hike, entered the third day on Thursday even as talks held among stakeholders failed to break the deadlock. Talks held between Transport Minister Diwakar Raote, MSRTC officials and union representatives failed to arrive at a negotiated settlement to end the strike. Owing to the stir, which started on October 16 midnight, passengers across the state continued to face hardships in travelling to their hometowns in the festive season. Raote, along with officials of the corporation, held several rounds of meetings on Wednesday with union representatives. However, these meetings failed to break the deadlock. Raote later said, “Union representatives put forth the highest-ever proposal to increase the salary. Their (pay hike) demand is so hight that it is not possible for the MSRTC to accept it.” The minister once again appealed to the striking staffers to resume duty taking in account the plight of long- distance passengers. Several stranded passengers took trains to reach their destinations. The Central Railway has added a few additional unreserved coaches in Matsyagandha Express, Mangalore Express and Tutari Express for the benefit of passengers.