Over one lakh employees of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) have gone on an indefinite strike demanding a hike in salary. The strike has hit thousands of long-distance passengers planning to travel to their hometowns for Diwali.
More than 65 lakh passengers travel by State Transport buses everyday. The MSRTC runs 18,000 buses, some of which go to far-flung areas not connected by rail network.
To overcome the disruption caused by the strike, which began from Monday midnight, the transport department of the Maharashtra government has issued a notification to allow private vehicles, including school buses, to ferry passengers.
The state-run corporation termed the strike, which has hit the Diwali travel of thousands of passengers, as “illegal”.
“Our 1.02 lakh staffers have stopped plying ST buses from midnight yesterday demanding implementation of the 7th Pay Commission and an interim hike of 25 per cent till the pay panel’s recommendations are implemented….The government agreed to give only a part of interim hike which is not acceptable to us,” Sandeep Shinde, president of the Maharashtra ST Workers’ Union, told PTI.
“If our demands are met, we are ready to end our strike right now,” he added.
Shinde also apologised to the people for the inconvenience caused to them.
“We have been rendering our services to them (passengers) since long, but this time we need their support for our survival,” 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”.
A senior official of the MSRTC said the strike is “illegal” and the transport agency’s administration has appealed to the union members to come back to work.
MSRTC officials said Fadnavis and Raote have taken the issue seriously and ordered setting up of a committee to look into it.
(With inputs from PTI)