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ST staff’s fight for money to continue on Laxmi puja

The negotiation between labour unions and administration, which started around 7pm on Wednesday, were unfruitful at the time of going to press

mumbai Updated: Oct 19, 2017 00:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
MSRTC buses lie parked at Parel depot after its workers went on indefinite strike on Tuesday.(Bhushan Koyande/HT)

Have plans to step out on Laxmi puja day? Brace for trouble as the strike by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), the country’s largest public transport undertaking, staff will continue on Thursday.

Around one lakh employees of MSRTC started the indefinite strike on Tuesday, demanding their salaries be revised according to the recommendations of the seventh pay commission. The MSRTC’s recognised labour union, Maharashtra State ST Kamagar Sanghatana (MSSKS), which is leading the agitation, has support from six other labour unions. The negotiation between labour unions and administration, which started around 7pm on Wednesday, were unfruitful at the time of going to press.

Thousands of people who travel to the interiors of Maharashtra and Konkan for Diwali mostly depend on state transport buses.

The MSRTC has a fleet of 19,000 buses, which ferry more than 60 lakh passengers on intra-city and inter-city routes, along with services to Vasai-Virar, Nalasopara and Nashik. Its inter-city Shivneri buses on the Mumbai-Pune route are popular among commuters.

Taking the possible trouble into account, the state government requested the railway authorities to introduce extra train services or coaches. Sunil Udasi, chief spokesperson of CR, said they have decided to attach a general second class coach for trains departing from Mumbai, including Matyagandha Express.

Earlier, the state transport minister, Diwakar Raote, sent out an appeal to call off the strike, but the unions are adamant on their demand. The state has allowed private buses, trucks, tempos, school buses to ferry passengers, but the move hasn’t helped much.

On the first day of the strike, RTO officials were seen on the roads, making arrangements for private buses, school buses and taxis. But no such help was given on Wednesday, leaving most commuters in the lurch. Only 7 MSRTC buses were out on the roads till 2pm, compared to more than 650 buses a day before. The employees also protested at different MSRTC depots. Sources said an employee, Eknath Wakchaure, died during the protest at Akole, in Ahmednagar district, escalating the tension.

Many passengers had to cancel their travel plan, while others complained private cabbies and bus operators were charging hefty fares. “For Pune-Mumbai journey, the private cabbies asked for Rs500, instead of the usual Rs250-300,” said Sachin Dhuri, a Pune resident, who travelled to Mumbai for Diwali.

Diwali sees the highest rush in the MSRTC buses, and hence the transport body had hiked its fare temporarily by 10% from October 15.

First Published: Oct 18, 2017 11:43 IST