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Maharashtra: Diwali travel goes awry as MSRTC workers begin indefinite strike

Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation labour union had been demanding salaries under the seventh pay commission.

Updated: Oct 17, 2017 12:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
MSRTC,MSRTC labour union,Indefinite strike
File photo of MSRTC buses which have stopped plying following an indefinite strike by the employees demanding a pay hike.(HT Photo)

Over one lakh employees of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) began an indefinite strike Tuesday midnight demanding a raise in salary, throwing a spanner in the travel plans thousands of long-distance passengers headed for their hometowns for Diwali.

Demanding implementation of the seventh pay commission recommendations, the Maharashtra State ST Kamagar Sanghatana (MSSKS), the recognised labour union of MSRTC, announced the strike after its negotiations with the state government failed.

With Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking also threatening to strike work on October 21 (Saturday), commuters are staring at a tough time during festival time.

To overcome the disruption caused by the strike, the state government has issued a notification allowing private vehicles including trucks, buses, school buses and other vehicles to ferry passengers.

The state-run corporation termed the strike as “illegal”.

Sandeep Shinde, leader of MSSKS, said the state government offered them 10% salary hike in wage agreement. But their members, whose basic pay is only Rs7,000, will get Rs 600 to Rs700 hike in salary, he said.

“We are demanding salaries under the seventh pay commission for MSRTC employees. Our salary was on par with the state government employees before 1995. But now, a majority of MSRTC employees get only Rs 8,000 to Rs 9,000 a month salary, which is very little,” said Shinde, adding that that the union has the support of six other unions.

“If our demands are met, we are ready to end our strike right now,” Shinde said.

He said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and transport minister Diwakar Raote have taken some steps to resolve the issue, but “we want a final solution this time”.

The MSRTC is the largest public transport body in the country with around 18,000 buses and 1.02 lakh employees. Every day, MSRTC buses ferry more than 60 lakh passengers on intra-city and inter-city routes. It also provides bus service in Vasai-Virar, Nalasopara, Nashik and others cities of the state.

The BEST workers’ union, too, has warned of a one-day token strike on October 21, if the undertaking does not meet its bonus demand.

The MSRTC strike could hit passengers who have booked tickets to go to their native place for Diwali. If BEST employees’ issue is not resolved, lakhs of people will be face problems on Bhaubeej, which will be celebrated on Saturday.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Oct 17, 2017 12:03 IST