Passengers stranded as Punbus, PRTC contractual staff go on strike

Published on Aug 15, 2022 03:10 AM IST

Though they planned to go on 3-day strike, they decided to resume work by Sunday evening after assurance of meeting with CM; Punjab Roadways, Punbus, PRTC contract workers’ union president Resham Singh Gill said around 8,000 contractual employees participated in the strike

PRTC and Punbus contractual employees’ union protesting against the state government in Ludhiana on Sunday. (Harvinder Singh/HT)
PRTC and Punbus contractual employees’ union protesting against the state government in Ludhiana on Sunday. (Harvinder Singh/HT)
By, Ludhiana/faridkot/sangrur/amritsar

Passengers had a harrowing time on Sunday as contractual and outsourced staff of Punbus and PEPSU road transport corporation (PRTC) across the state went on strike, affecting bus services. They were demanding regularisation of jobs and equal pay for equal work.

Though it was not a complete shutdown, as regular employees of the department continued work, commuters had to wait for several hours for the buses.

The protesting employees, who had initially planned to go on strike for three days, decided by evening to resume their services after a meeting with state transport minister Laljit Singh Bhullar and assurance of a meeting with chief minister Bhagwant Mann on August 18.

Punjab Roadways, Punbus, PRTC contract workers’ union president Resham Singh Gill said around 8,000 contractual employees participated in the strike.

The strike came five days after private and mini-bus operators went on a day-long protest to press for their demands, including tax waiver for the Covid-19 pandemic period.

The passengers, meanwhile, were on the receiving end.

Sargun Sharma, who was waiting at the Amritsar bus stand to catch a bus to Jalandhar said, “I have been waiting for over two hours for a bus. If the bus staff is facing any issue, the government should resolve it immediately so that passengers don’t have to bear the brunt of it.”

Surjit Kaur, a Ludhiana resident, said she had plans to visit Amritsar with her family on account of extended Independence Day weekend, but the strike played spoilsport.

Paramjit Singh Koonar, a resident of Model Gram in Ludhiana, said, “As government buses were not plying, private buses remained packed to capacity.”

Left with no other option, say protesting staff

Jatinder Singh, state leader of the union, said, “We have been struggling for many years to get regularised. We had met transport minister Laljit Singh Bhullar a few months ago and he promised us to organise a meeting with CM Bhagwant Mann. But nothing happened. We want to apologise to the public because they are suffering due to us. But we are forced to go on strike as we do not have any other option to raise our voice.”

The union’s leader in Amritsar Jodh Singh said hundreds of employees have been working on contract for more than 15 years. “Besides the regularisation of the staff, new recruitment through outsourcing should be stopped. Those employees who have been blacklisted should be restored for their duties. Similarly, 1,000 new buses should be purchased to effectively implement the state government’s free travel schemes,” he said.

Sandeep Singh, president, PRTC and Punbus contractual employees’ union Bathinda said, “AAP government had promised our regularisation but nothing has been done in past four months also. This government is also like the previous governments.”

Navraj Batish, superintendent Shaheed Sukhdev Bus Terminus Ludhiana, said that the strike has impacted 50% of business. Government buses being operated by the regular employees ran as per the schedule, he added.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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