Following a series of transport strikes by opposition parties, the Trinamool Congress government has made a desperate attempt to woo the sector’s workers during the state budget on Friday. “Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is concerned about the transport workers of the state. So, she wants to do something for the measures. I am happy to announce them in this budget,” said Amit Mitra, the state’s finance and industry minister.
It has been announced that transport workers would get a pension of Rs. 1,500 a month after the age of 60. Besides, the government would also provide a salary pension of Rs. 750 every month and a one-time amount of Rs. 2 lakh in case of immature death of a transport worker. The government also offered a maternity benefit of Rs. 25,000 and a mediclaim of Rs. 1.5 lakh for the transport workers.
This is the third time that the government had announced benefits for the transport workers in the state. In August 2014, the government first announced a bus fare hike. In February, the government reduced no-refusal fine of cab drivers from Rs. 3,000 to a paltry Rs. 100. “Tell me what a driver would do with Rs. 1,500 a month. This is just an eyewash to hide corruption. The government is now desperate to bring back the confidence of cab drivers after a series of strikes,” said Pramod Jha a leader representing the Citu-backed cab drivers’ union.
Since August, taxis went off the city roads on more than 10 occasions as the opposition unions called protest meetings for around eight times followed by a two-day long taxi strike. Even before the bus fare hike in August, the operators called a strike for more than three days within three months.
“We have got an indication of these announcements in February when Mamata met us at Nazarul Mancha. We are happy with what the state government announced. But the amount is too low,” said Aloke Sarkar, leader of the INTTUC backed bus union.