Refusing to do overtime, suburban railway motormen staged a walkout after normal duty hours, leaving thousands of commuters stranded at Mumbai CST and Churchgate station on Friday evening.
The motormen were protesting for better working hours and improved salaries. The protest threw traffic on both the Central and Western Railways out of gear, leading to chaos at CST and Churchgate stations.
As commuters gathered during peak hours, tension increased and some people mobbed the motormen’s lobby at CST, demanding the reason behind trains not running. Additional forces of city police were deployed to prevent the situation from getting out of control. At Churchgate the crowd was manageable.
Even as trains continued to remain stationary, the crowds started dispersing as people opted for alternative means of transport. The problem at CST was that commuters were completely clueless about the situation. “How do we know that trains are not running and motormen are not working? The railways should at least announce it so that we can start looking for alternative means,” Rajesh Kumar Sawla (41), a commuter from CST said.
There were angry reactions from public against the motormen. “People don’t have jobs and these people refuse to work. The railways should be strict with them,” Avdesh Rana, another commuter said.
Railway officials said the problem started at 3.30 pm and lasted till 7 pm after which things slowly began to return to normal. “Motormen are clearly blackmailing the administration. The trains were not working inconveniencing commuters,” Mansoor Umer Darvesh, member of passenger traffic association said.
Motormen have planned a day-long agitation on January 26. “We are geared to handle the situation. We will ensure that passengers are not inconvenienced,” S.M. Andaleeb Razi, CR’s deputy general manager, said.