: The Bangalore Metropolitan Transportation Corporation (BMTC) crew, who would normally come under fire from commuters, had unexpected backing from them as a majority of the BMTC’s Vajra (Volvo) crew went on a snap strike on Tuesday morning.

The crew were protesting against non-payment of over time (OT) allowance, unscientific trip timings, forced evening and night shift duty for women conductors among other reasons. Services were affected for almost four hours from 6 a.m. and resumed only after senior BMTC officials intervened.

More than 200 Vajra buses stayed off the roads. Drivers and conductors had gathered outside the Vajra bus depot near the Kempe Gowda bus-station, refusing to take the buses out till their demands were met. Only after senior officials reached the spot and assured them did the buses begin moving out of the depot.

The protesters claimed the BMTC forced them to work 12 hours a day on a regular basis, but failed to pay them their arrears. One protester said the BMTC’s senior officials cited their failure to keep up the time schedule as the reason for non-payment. “The time given to cover a particular route is short in view of the heavy traffic density. When buses fail to cover the distance in the stipulated time, the officials take action.”

Online buzz

Readers of The Hindu’s online edition expressed outrage against the management for adopting inhuman and unscientific practices after reading about the snap protest.

Sarath, said, he was under the impression that drivers were the culprits when they indulge in rash driving. But the root cause is the trip timing fixed by the management, unmindful of road conditions. “I request that the BMTC not have such unsafe methodologies and pay drivers their due.”

Krishnan, said, “This is another feather on the cap of the BMTC — expecting a journey to be finished within a stipulated time — on their [BMTC’s] already strained relation with drivers and conductors.” He said he would be amazed that the trip between Majestic and Kadugodi could be completed within 1hour and 15 minutes even on a weekend. Such pressure puts a huge risk on the life of people, he said.

BMTC officials should travel on their buses in different parts of the city and then fix trip timings, suggested Kishore, another reader. He said, “One cannot but sympathise with drivers who have to put up with extremely stressful traffic and road conditions.”