Haryana Roadways staff go on strike against permits to private bus operators
At least 3,500 buses, including 20 Volvo and nine Mercedes Benz buses that ply between Gurugram and Chandigarh, came to a halt at bus stands in the state.india Updated: Jun 14, 2017 14:32 IST
Over 4,000 Haryana Roadways buses, including 39 luxury buses, remained off the road on Tuesday after employees called for a ‘chakka jam’ and struck work for a day to demand withdrawal of permits to private bus operators.
During a meeting held between the union leaders and transport minister Krishan Lal Panwar, which lasted till 8 pm on Tuesday, the government conceded to their demands, including rolling out a new transport policy and promised action against private bus operators.
Speaking to HT, Haryana Roadways Workers Union general secretary Sarbat Poonia said, “The union leaders were anguished over the decision of the government to give permission to private bus operators while they flouted norms causing loss to the government.”
“The government has agreed to allow private operators only on selected routes and not to give new permits till rolling out of new transport policy. They have also agreed to take stern action against private operators who have flouted norms pertaining to routes and facilities to passengers,” he added.
State transport minister Krishan Lal Panwar had called union leaders for a meeting in Chandigarh on Tuesday afternoon. “We have been called for a meeting, but our future course of action will depend on the outcome of these talks. In the past too, the government has made a commitment, but failed to honour it,” Punia had said. “If today’s talks fail, striking employees may be forced to intensify their protest agitation, he added.
The strike, to protest the permits given under the 2016- 17 transport policy, earlier caused inconvenience to thousands of commuters who depend on Haryana Roadways buses for commuting.
Multiple rounds of talks have been held between the state government and striking employees’ representatives during the past two months to break the deadlock, but they have failed to yield much. It was second time in about two month’s time that the roadways observed strike, the last being on April 10.
In April this year, the state government and roadways employees unions had reached a consensus to end the strike on the fourth day.
At the time, the government had agreed to scrap the new transport policy of 2016-17.
However, it was decided that 844 buses will continue to ply on old routes under the previous transport policy till the new policy was finalised.
“We don’t want to inconvenience common people, but people will understand that what we are doing is in everybody’s larger interest,” Punia said.
Rather than thinking of privatising the roadways, the government should think of adding more buses and improving services. There was also a shortage of drivers and conductors, the union leader said, adding that 16,000 buses were needed to cater to the 2.5 crore population of Haryana. “There is no demand to privatise roadways from the people of Haryana, so why should the government show haste,” he said.
Echoing him, another union leader, Haryana Roadways Sanyukt Karamchari Sangh President Dalbir Singh Kirmara said the decision to strike work had been taken after the state government had backed out from its promise of withdrawing private bus operators, who were granted permit as per 2016-17 transport policy.
During the strike, the employees staged demonstrations at various depots, including Hisar, Ambala, Kaithal, Jind and Rohtak . It was a tough day for passengers in Karnal, especially the students, who suffered due to the strike.
“The strike has become a routine affair and today again I could not go to my college in Panipat,” said a student Preet Singh.