ST bus strike gifts a ‘stranded Diwali’ to hundreds of Pune residents

Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) workers went on an indefinite strike from October 16 midnight. Demands include implementation of Seventh Pay Commission and 25 per cent interim hike  

pune Updated: Oct 17, 2017 22:36 IST
Jui Dharwadkar
Jui Dharwadkar
Hindustan Times, Pune
When team Hindustan Times visited a few bus depots on Tuesday passengers were seen stranded and waiting to cancel their ST tickets. (HT Photo)

Pune: Hundreds of passengers were left stranded on Tuesday as the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) workers went on an indefinite strike from October 16 midnight.

The demands put forth by the workers include implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission and 25 per cent interim hike till the revised salary contract is made.

For many passengers this strike by the state transport buses during Diwali has been a nightmare as their plans to travel back home seem to have been shattered.

With private buses charging exorbitantly and many running full, passengers have no option but to cancel trips back home or travel by booking special cabs, costing them a fortune.

When team Hindustan Times visited bus depots in the city it was found that hundreds of passengers were sitting at the depot since early morning hoping for the strike to end.

The worst affected were small children and old people who were waiting for hours at the depot.

Many passengers stated that they were not aware of the strike and now have no choice but to cancel their trips.

A passenger Prachi Bokil said, “My family is in Kolhapur and every Diwali I travel home. I was supposed to leave early today, but due to the strike my plans seem cancelled.”

She had taken leave from work to travel today, which too seems to have been wasted.

Another passenger, Amey Patil, too shared similar views.

“Me and my wife were to travel to Nashik today, but have been caught in the city due to the strike. We are not even getting a booking with private buses as all are running full today. I have decided to book a cab and travel, but for this I have to unnecessarily shed extra money.”

Student Rohit Bhat said that he had booked MSRTC bus tickets to travel to Ratnagiri, but had to cancel it after the strike was announced.

“I am not getting any ticket to travel right now and hence, will wait for a day or two more to see if the strike gets called off,” he added.

On Monday, after getting a notice from the unions of ST workers, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met members of the unions, but the meeting did not yield anything.

Hanumant Tate, general secretary ST Kamgar Sanghtana said that the strike will continue till the administration intervenes and takes cognizance of the demands.

He said MSRTC workers are getting paid Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 a month which is not sufficient considering the rising cost of living.

The state currently operates 17,000 buses across the state and has 1.07 lakh MSRTC employees and 65 lakh passenger travelling daily on these buses.

The Maharashtra State ST Kamgar Sanghatana (MSSKS), the recognised labour union in the MSRTC, said they have the backing of six other labour unions and would not back down after negotiations with the state government failed. State transport minister Diwakar Raote had appealed to them not to go on strike.

The Maharashtra government has allowed private vehicles, including trucks, buses, school buses and other vehicles, to ferry passengers. The state issued this notification after its negotiations with the MSRTC union failed.

Speaking about the strike, Transport Minsiter Diwakar Raote said, “The industrial court and the labour court both had not allowed this strike by ST workers. MSRTC is not financially in a position to make the 7th pay commission applicable to the workers and this situation is not likely to change in the coming 25 years.”

Raote further stated that the union members had met Chief Minsiter Devendra Fadnavis on Monday who too had stated that the 7th pay commission cannot be made applicable to state transport workers. The CM had assured them that a committee would be set up to consider the demand of salary hike of the workers but the workers have still gone on strike.

First Published: Oct 17, 2017 15:39 IST