Mumbai: Lakhs of commuters who were travelling during Diwali were inconvenienced on Tuesday as Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) union workers went on an indefinite bus strike from October 16 onwards. The workers have called for a ‘state wide’ strike as the State Transport (ST) body has failed to pay them their salary according to the seventh pay commission.At least 65 lakh passengers travel daily by ST buses. The passengers travelling to their hometown during the festival faced huge inconvenience.
The union workers decided to go on a strike as they failed to receive a hike in the salary. “Since the past three years, we have been requesting the officials to pay us the salaries as per the seventh pay commission. But they have not met our demands as yet. Our workers get paid between Rs 8000 to Rs 10,000 a month which does not suffice their basic needs,” said Sandeep Shinde, state president of the MSRTC Workers’ Union.
The workers also demanded for payment similar to that of other workers in different transport divisions.
The MSRTC incurs almost Rs 450 crores 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.
“There are a total number of more than lakh workers in our transport division. We spent at least Rs 5000 on payment of their salaries. Their demands of salary hike do not fit in our budget allocation,” said a MSRTC official. The MSRTC ran at least 4000 private buses for the convenience of the passengers who were travelling to their hometown during Diwali.
The MSRTC officials said that a disciplinary action would be taken against the workers who went on a strike on October 16 and October 17. “Disciplinary action will be taken against the workers who will not resume work by Wednesday. Criminal action will be taken against the workers who stopped the services of private vehicles which were run due to the strike,” said a MSRTC official.
In Nashik, the ST bus strike caught citizens unawares on Tuesday. Students were largely hit as many arrived at the bus station with bus passes and they did not have the money to take the private vehicle. “I had decided to go by bus as it is difficult to park the scooter in this heavy diwali rush. I was taken unaware due to the bus strike and I had to take an autorickshaw,” said Archana Sonawane, a resident of Nashik.
Slamming the employees for striking over their demand for salary hike, state Transport Minister Diwakar Raote has said implementing the 7th Pay Commission for these employees is not possible for next 25 years.