Khattar blinks, invites Haryana Roadways leaders on strike for talks
The state roadways employees are protesting against the government’s move to induct 700 private buses, which they held was a step towards privatisation.Updated: Oct 21, 2018 10:12 IST
Anticipating harder times for commuters and further embarrassment to his government, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar blinked on Saturday and appealed to the roadways employees’ leaders to hold talks with director general, transport department, on Sunday 12 noon.
The state roadways employees are protesting against the government’s move to induct 700 private buses, which they held was a step towards privatisation, and had gone on a two-day strike on October 16. Later they extended it for two more days and subsequently for three more days till October 22, in retaliation against government action against striking employees under the essential services maintenance Act (ESMA).
Though the government maintained a tough stance since day one, detaining striking employees who tried to disrupt the movement of buses and terminating the services of at least 200 drivers and conductors who were either in their probation period or had been hired through an outsourced agency, for joining the strike. It also booked at least 164 under Esma and placed them under suspension for their strike on September 5, last.
The government made frantic efforts to rope in buses from private institutions and drivers and conductors from different agencies, including government departments, the same were found to be inadequate. The government also made a move to make immediate recruitments of drivers and conductors which received a good response from different districts.
However, the roadways union stuck to its stand and kept threatening to extend their strike if the government did not withdraw its decision to induct the 700 private buses and take back cases against roadways employees. Meanwhile, several other employees unions, including Haryana Sarvkarmchari Sangh, also extended their support to the striking roadways employees.
The plight of hundreds of commuters continued for all these days despite government efforts.
The department officials reiterated on Saturday evening that it was wrong to say that government was favouring a chosen few by giving up to Rs 49 per kilometre to them, which is much higher than the actual cost.
ACS (transport) Dhanpat Singh said, roping in private buses on public-private partnership (PPP) mode is in employees interest. According to the contract, private operators would run new buses on routes and have their own drivers while the conductors would be of Haryana roadways who would give receipts to government. This means more jobs to people. The contracts would be given for Rs 31 to Rs 37 per km, hence the profit.