Bus services in Punjab hit as roadways contractual staff goes on strike
Seeking regularisation of their jobs, nearly 8,200 outsourced and contractual employees of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), Punjab Roadways and the Punbus on Monday went on a strike for an indefinite period.
Bus services remained largely affected in different parts of the state, causing inconvenience to the general public. As per reports, at least 80% of buses remained off the road.
Only 30% of the PRTC’s 1,100 buses plied on their routes. The protesting employees staged protests at bus stands across the state.
The commuters were a harried lot as heavy rush could be witnessed at bus stands and bus stops. Many were seen hiring private taxis to reach their destinations.
The transport department has directed the managements of the state transport undertakings to deploy their regular staff, presently doing desk jobs, on field duties so as to minimise the impact of the strike.
Harkesh Kumar, state general secretary of the Punjab Roadways, Punbus and PRTC Contractual Workers’ Union, said they held meetings with several ministers and senior officials in the last one month but nothing concrete came out.
“We were told that the government would discuss the matter in a cabinet meeting in August but no agenda related to our jobs was tabled. The contractual conductors are being paid a meager ₹9,118 per month, while the drivers are getting ₹10,200. We are being exploited for the past 15 years,” he said.
The union is also demanding stringent measures to check the transport mafia, streamlining of daily roaster, implementation of equal work and equal salary and to stop unnecessary harassment of employees on the pretext of daily reports.
PRTC managing director Bhupinder Singh said they somehow managed to run 30-35% of buses on different routes so that people do not face any inconvenience.
“We are hopeful that the situation will improve in the coming days as more regular employee will be deployed on field duties,” he said.