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Delhi Metro strike on hold after workers restrained by high court

In an interim order, the Delhi high court held the action of the Delhi Metro employees was not justified or legal since sufficient notice had not been given to the DMRC to go on strike from Friday midnight.

delhi Updated: Jun 29, 2018 23:26 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi Metro,Delhi Metro workers strike,Delhi Metro Rail Corporation
Employees of the Delhi Metro said they would go on strike from June 30 if their demands for better pay and a union were not met.(Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

The Delhi high court at the last moment on Friday restrained the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) non-executive staff from going on a strike they had been threatening for a week to force a wage hike and press other demands .

After an urgent hearing, which started around 5:30 pm, justice Vipin Sanghi passed an interim order, saying the action of the metro staff did not seem to be justified or legal. The staff had proposed going on strike from Saturday.

“... Prima facie, the action of the respondents (employees) does not appear to be justified or legal since sufficient notice has not been given to the petitioner and the conciliation proceedings are still in progress; I am inclined to grant ad-interim relief as sought in the application. Accordingly, the employees are restrained from going on strike on June 30 or till further orders in the matter,” the order said.

The court issued notice to the DMRC Staff Council general secretary on a plea by the metro rail operator seeking a court directive to restrain the employees from going on strike.

The court order said huge inconvenience would be caused to commuters if the metro staff goes on strike. The DMRC Staff Council was not available for comment on the restraining order.

The 9,000-strong staff council of the Metro had demanded revision of salaries, payment of arrears and a policy to be followed for sacking employees. The strike would have affected commuter services as members of the council include drivers, and ticketing and maintenance staff.

The Delhi government stepped in on Friday evening and met metro officials to discuss the demands of the protesting employees. Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who chaired the meeting, asked metro officials to consider the demands of the non-executive staff.

As a precautionary measure, a file was also moved by the DMRC to the home department to impose the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to keep train services running in case the staff decided to go ahead with the strike. The file was sent to the lieutenant governor for his approval, Sisodia said.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is in Bengaluru for medical treatment, urged the non-executive staff to continue their duties. “Whereas all genuine demands of metro employees should be met, a strike would cause inconvenience to lakhs of people. The strike should not take place. Government could impose ESMA as a last resort. I would urge employees to not resort to a strike,” he wrote in a Twitter post.

A government spokesperson said the situation was so grave that Kejriwal had been personally monitoring the standoff from Bengaluru. “DMRC managing director Mangu Singh is in the US for a tunneling conference and two days of talks by HODs (heads of departments) of metro did not give positive results. So, deputy CM and transport minister Kailash Gahlot were directed by Kejriwal to intervene, after which Sisodia held the meeting..,” a government spokesperson said.

Gahlot, while announcing that the high court had restrained DMRC employees from going on strike on Saturday, said, “All genuine demands of the employees should be accepted. Delhi government is equally committed to ensure smooth functioning of DMRC.”

Though the council members claimed that they had not been paid revised salaries and arrears, the DMRC had, after a series of protests in July 2017, bumped up the salary grades of all non-executive staff to a higher level. The upgrade had been backdated to July 2015.

Nearly 12,000 people are employed with Delhi Metro, with non-executive staff accounting for about 9,000.

First Published: Jun 29, 2018 20:31 IST