Payment worth crores of over 1,000 employees working with the Punjab roadways in the state is pending for the past three years.
Ludhiana being the largest bus depot has around Rs 1.5 crore lying pending with the state transport department for the overtime work done in the past three years.
According to various transport employees' unions operating in the state, fund crunch and payments lying pending with the treasury have often been cited as the main reasons behind the non-payment.
Jagdeesh Chahal, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), general secretary (Punjab), who is also the Moga depot president, said, "Out of 2,100 permanent employees working in all 18 depots of the state almost 1,000 employees have not received the pending salaries."
Chahal added, "Every time we approach the state transport department or state finance minister, we have just been given assurance by them. Though many employees have not received even a single penny of overtime work done by them in past three years, the ill-practice is going unchecked for more than five years now."
"The employees of Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar are most affected by the ill-practice which is fraught with political intervention," he added.
Harbansh Singh, AITUC, president, said, "We held meetings with the director of the transport department on regular basis and are assured that pending salaries will be released soon. However most of the time we are told that the treasury is closed or there is shortage of funds and we will have to wait for more."
According to an estimate, overtime pending salaries of around 80 permanent employees working at the Ludhiana depot are around Rs 4 lakh for a single month.
"The department has only cleared bills till December 2011. However, we have been constantly demanding the release of pending salaries and regularisation of contractual employees," added Singh.
Talking to HT, Avtar Singh Tari, general secretary of AITUC Jalandhar depot, said, "We have not received our arrears, compensation for medical bills and increments for more than a year now."
Surprisingly, Ajit Singh Kohar, state transport minister, expressed ignorance over the issue and said, "I will speak to the officials concerned and look into the matter."
However, when HT contacted, Bhupender Rai, director state transport, said, "We have already started the process of paying salaries for overtime work. The department is in poor financial condition but still we will try to clear the pending amount soon."