It was the tough stand adopted by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Friday that pushed the school bus operators to blink first.
After a meeting with transport officials at Sahyadri guest house, Chavan, who also holds the transport portfolio, appealed to school bus owners to call off the strike. “The government is sympathetic with them (school bus owners) and their legitimate demands will be considered,” he said.
However, transport secretary SK Sharma, said: “Till the time they (SBOA) won’t call off their strike; we are not going to have a dialogue with them.”
Later in the day, Anil Garg, president of the School Bus Owners Association (SBOA), announced that they were calling off the strike. He said: “Considering the hardships faced by parents and exam-going children, we will resume our services immediately.”
However, he said they would continue to protest till the government took a decision on their “long-pending” demands. “We will mark our protest by displaying black flags on buses," he said.
Earlier, the association said Friday’s that the strike was successful with most of the school buses staying off the roads. “More than 90 per cent of the school buses and vans did not ply,” Garg said.
There are around 3,000 school buses in the state, including approximately 1,000 in the city.
There were no talks between the government and the bus owners through the day. “There was not a single phone call on this issue” said Garg. Sharma said the government did not offer to talk first.