Rail strike off, Mumbai on track
After holding the city to ransom for almost 24 hours, motormen withdrew their strike on Tuesday evening, much to the relief of hassled Mumbaiites heading home from work.
The hunger stir was called off and motormen started reporting to work after the state government stepped in.
By late evening, the suburban train service used by 70 lakh Mumbaiites every day was hobbling back to normalcy.
In the afternoon, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan held a meeting with railway and state officials after which Home Minister R.R. Patil negotiated with the motormen’s union leaders, giving them three assurances — that the 20 dismissed motormen would be taken back, police cases against them would be withdrawn and that the railway ministry would take a decision on their demands by June 15.
“The unions agreed to withdraw the strike and get the city back on its feet. We have agreed to be mediator and communicate their demands to the railway ministry,” Patil said.
The state had the go-ahead from the ministry to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act, which it was planning to use if the talks failed.
“The minister has assured us that there will be no victimisation of motormen due to the strike. If our demands are not met after June 15, we will stage a bigger strike,” said Jayant Nimsudkar, a leader of the Joint Action Forum of motormen’s unions.
Most Mumbaiites could not make it to work. Attendance in government offices was 18 per cent, while commercial establishments such as the BSE reported 25 per cent attendance.