The strike by over one lakh employees of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) entered the second day, inconveniencing thousands of passengers during the festive season.
“We had put up notices at all the bus depots asking the agitating staff to call off the strike and resume duty by Tuesday evening, but unfortunately they have not done so.
The administration is now seriously thinking of taking disciplinary action against them,” said Milind Band, deputy general manager (operations), MSRTC.
Over 1.02 lakh MSRTC employees have gone on an indefinite strike from the midnight of October 16, demanding a hike in salary as per the 7th Pay Commission’s report.
“We have offered them 10 per cent hike, but they are demanding hike as per the 7th Pay Commission which would amount to 490 per cent increase, which is financially not feasible at all,” Band said.
The administration is aware that the current salaries are not in accordance with the 7th Pay Commission, but none of the 61 government-run corporations in the state are paying salaries as per the 7th Pay Commission, the officer pointed out.
The transport department has temporarily allowed private vehicles, including school buses, to ferry passengers.
However, the alternative arrangements have failed to provide much succour to passengers travelling home for Diwali, reports said.
MSRTC has 17,500 buses in its fleet which make 56,756 trips everyday to every nook and corner of the state.
The transport undertaking, which has an annual turnover of Rs 7,000 crore, incurs a loss of little less than Rs 2 crore per day.
An MSRTC employee who is on strike said while speaking to reporters outside its headquarters in Mumbai Central, “Look at the condition of buses. Cracked windshields have not been replaced for years, headlights are broken, indicators are damaged which can lead to accidents, but our senior officers are installing Wi-Fi facility in buses, at the expense of our salaries. Is this not ridiculous?”
Meanwhile, managing director of MSRTC Ranjit Singh Deol, transport commissioner Praveen Gedam and principal secretary (transport) Manoj Saunik today held a meeting with representatives of the MSRTC workers union, but the talks didn’t yield any results, said an official.
The MSRTC is also planning to approach the Home Guard to get temporary drivers.
“We are going to write to the Director General of Home Guard, requesting him to provide us personnel who have valid driving license with `Passenger Service Vehicle’ badge, asking them to report to nearby bus depots,” Band said.