Cluster bus drivers, conductors on strike in Delhi, want a hike in wages
Drivers and conductors of the cluster or orange bus service are on strike since Monday over non-compliance to the new minimum wage rule introduced by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in March this year. On Thursday, they are going to take the protest to the Lieutenant Governor’s residence, demanding a salary revision.delhi Updated: May 17, 2017 23:58 IST
The wait for a bus for commuters in Delhi is only going to get longer as more than a thousand cluster buses went off roads on Wednesday.
Drivers and conductors of the cluster or orange bus service are on strike since Monday over non-compliance to the new minimum wage rule introduced by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in March this year. On Thursday, they are going to take the protest to the Lieutenant Governor’s residence, demanding a salary revision.
Thursday’s protest is likely to add to the commuting woes of Delhiites as more drivers are likely to join the strike. Regular passengers have been facing a harrowing time since the strike started on May 15, with some routes seeing no buses at all.
“I have a pass and use buses on route number 817 daily to go to Janakpuri District Centre from Inderlok for work. On Wednesday, I there were no buses on this route at all,” said Ranjeev Jha, who works in a furniture shop.
Jha said he later reached his workplace by taking the Metro and an auto-rickshaw.
Out of a fleet of 5,718 buses running in Delhi, the government-run Delhi Integrated
Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Limited operates 1,590 buses under the cluster scheme.
The remaining buses come under the Delhi Transport Corporation. There are 3,900 drivers and 4,000 conductors currently serving under the cluster scheme.
Passengers on Wednesday complained of having to wait longer for a bus. “Usually I get a bus in 10 minutes. Today, however, I got a bus after nearly 30 minutes. The bus fleet in Delhi is already so low and the strike has only made it worse,” said Dabbu Rai, who uses buses on route number 221 that runs between Anand Vihar ISBT and Mori Gate.
The striking drivers have demanded that the existing scheme in which salaries are calculated on the kilometers driven by them per day is done away with. “We demand a revision in the salary structure of bus drivers. They should be paid as per the minimum wage law,” said Pramod Tomar, president of Audyogik Kamgar Vikas Union that is leading the strike.
As per the new minimum wages implemented in March, a skilled person ought to receive a minimum wages of Rs 16,182 per month.
Drivers of public motor transport fall under the skilled category, while conductors are considered semi-skilled.
It was only a month ago that the government began paying bus conductors Rs 14,698 per month as per the minimum wage rule.
To bring the situation under control, the transport department on Wednesday convened an urgent meeting with
concessionaires operating these buses.
“The issue is almost resolved as the concessionaires today gave in writing that they will implement the minimum wage rule. More buses will ply from tomorrow,” transport commissioner Varsha Joshi told HT.
The union, however, said they have got no communication from the concessionaires yet.