THE PROPOSED indefinite strike by over 38,000 employees of the UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC), which was scheduled to begin from midnight tonight, has been ‘unconditionally’ withdrawn after a meeting between employee leaders and Transport Minister Naresh Agarwal.
Agarwal announced at a press conference late tonight that directives had already been issued to withdraw all FIRs, suspension orders and other punitive action taken against the employees who participated in a day’s token strike on July 11. The minister said that a meeting had been convened tomorrow morning to sympathetically consider the 18-point charter of demands, where every issue would be discussed threadbare with the employee leaders. Demands, which need Cabinet approval, would be forwarded to the Government, he said.
The contentious issue of the possible confrontation of the employees with the Government had come for discussion at the Cabinet meeting held here today and Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had deputed Stamps and Registration Minister Hari Shankar Tiwari to intervene and make efforts to find an amicable solution.
Later, Tiwari held several rounds of meetings with Tej Bahadur Sharma, Ramji Tripathi, secretary and president of the UP State Roadways Employees’ Union and other office-bearers which culminated in unexpected withdrawal of the stir.
Sharma and Tripathi, who were present at the press conference, profusely thanked Naresh Agarwal for his cooperation and accused a few ‘middlemen’ who created a rift between them and the Transport Minister. They, however, refused to disclose the names of the ‘middlemen’.
Earlier, vehemently denying that the UPSRTC would suffer a staggering loss of Rs three crore per day as reported by a section of the press if the employees go on a Statewide strike from tonight, Transport Minister Naresh Agarwal today claimed that the corporation would, in fact, ‘earn’ Rs 2.68 crore which the UPSRTC had been spending every day on wages (Rs 1.22 crore) and diesel etc. (Rs 1.46 crore).
In strongly condemning and criticising the UPSRTC and its employees, the minister probably forgot that he himself was head of the department as minister and equally responsible for the pitiable condition of the corporation where, in his own opinion, nothing was in order, employees were shirkers and the corporation was economically not viable.
He, however, claimed that the organisation of 14,000 contractual workers of the UPSRTC and another workers’ body—the UP Roadways Mazdoor Sabha—had informed him in writing that they had dissociated themselves from the proposed strike.
Talking to reporters here on Tuesday, Agarwal gave various figures to prove that despite being high on expenditure, the UPSRTC was low on fares, as compared to private buses or the Railways.
Highlighting the failure of the employees on all fronts, the minister said that the load factor was hardly 59 per cent despite monopoly on lucrative routes against 80 per cent to 85 per cent in the private sector.