Haryana Roadways workers to strike on September 5
Haryana Roadways’ workers will observe a one-day strike on September 5, in protest against the state government’s decision to allow private buses to ply within and from the state.
The strike was confirmed on Wednesday after representatives from five workers’ unions met with state transport minister Krishan Lal Panwar, additional chief secretary (transport) Dhanpat Singh and Haryana transport commissioner Vikas Gupta in Chandigarh.
Dalbir Kirmara, a representative of the Haryana Roadways Sanyukth Karmachari Sangh, who was present at the meeting, said, “The state government is not listening to any of our demands despite our reputation as one of the best transport services in the country. We have no choice but to do a chakka jam (total shutdown) on September 5.”
About 4,000 buses are likely to remain off Haryana’s roads due to the strike. This may hinder the mobility of about 1.3 million passengers across the state. It will also inconvenience 60,000 passengers in Gurugram, who use the state bus service every day for intra-city, inter-district and inter-state travel.
Kirpal Singh, technical manager of the Gurugram bus stand, said, “Of the 4,000 buses, 1,500 ply to and from Gurugram. Even then, they are not enough for the city’s passenger volume which varies between 50-60,000 people a day.”
Commuters were inconvenienced earlier this month, on August 7, when Haryana Roadways’ workers took part in a nationwide strike against the amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act. Participating workers’ unions used the opportunity to raise state-specific issues, particularly the Haryana Transport Department’s move to privatize buses.
“On September 5, our strike will focus mainly on this issue (allowing private buses to ply),” said Jagdeep Lather, deputy general secretary of the Sanyukth Karmachari Sangh, one of the unions participating in the strike.
During the last state assembly meeting in July, it was decided that 720 private buses would join the existing state fleet of 4,000 state buses. Contractors operating private vehicles are slated to be paid Rs 32 to Rs 38 per kilometre, will be responsible for providing drivers and upkeep of vehicles; Haryana Roadways will continue to provide conductors.
According to the general manager of Haryana Roadways Engineering Corporation Rajeev Nagpal the move of privatising buses is inevitable, given that the organization is currently facing a fiscal deficit of about Rs 7,000 crore. “Private buses can fulfill consumer demand and ease the strain of state’s finances,” Nagpal had told the HT earlier.
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- Chautala, however, also made it clear that the government will make an exemption in the reservation if a company fails to find local skilled employees.