ST strike called off after HC says it’s illegal, brought rural areas to a halt

Back to work: State Transport buses resumed operations in Mumbai and across the State on Saturday after agitating employees called off their strike.

Back to work: State Transport buses resumed operations in Mumbai and across the State on Saturday after agitating employees called off their strike.  

Diwali-eve stir throws lakhs of festive season travel plans out of gear, causes ₹75 crore loss to MSRTC

Mumbai: Bringing relief to lakhs of travellers struggling to cope with the lack of buses during the festive season, employees of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) called off their strike on Saturday. Their decision comes after the Bombay High Court declared their strike as illegal on Friday.

The employees, mostly drivers and conductors and numbering over one lakh, had called an indefinite strike from Monday to demand salaries in accordance with the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations. The stir, which began on Diwali eve, had caused hardship to thousands of long-distance passengers planning travel to their hometowns for the festival.

On Friday, a Vacation Bench comprising Justice Sandeep Shinde noted that MSRTC serves seven million passengers every day on 13,700 routes across the State, and that the life of people in rural areas has been disturbed and has virtually come to standstill. The Bench said, “Judicial notice can be taken of the fact that private transport operators do not ply their buses on every route and as such, there are no transport facilities available in the interior parts of the State except that of the State Corporation.”

Milind Band, General Manager (Operations), MSRTC, said, “The HC has directed us to constitute a five-member committee to consider the demands and arrive at a logical conclusion.” He said the committee will be formed before October 23, and the Maharashtra State Transport Workers' Union, which had called the strike, will be informed about this on October 24. It will include MSRTC’s transport and financial secretaries, transport commissioner and MD, and Union representatives.

The court, which was hearing two PILs seeking that the stir be declared illegal, directed the committee to submit its interim report by November 15 and the final report on December 21.

Sandeep Shinde, who heads the MSRTC union, said, “We had given 14 days’ notice before commencing the strike, as per the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act (MRTP), on September 29. The same night, MSRTC rejected our notice saying as per the Industrial Disputes Act, a strike notice must be given six weeks in advance.”

He said the employees are firm in their demand for revision of salaries. “If the committee fails to understand the magnitude of our problems that compelled us to go on this strike, we shall call another strike in the beginning of January next year. This time, it will be done after issuing a notice six weeks in advance.”

Revenue lost

The MSRTC suffered estimated losses of over ₹75 crore during the four-day strike, Mr. Band said. “The first three days saws losss of ₹21 crore per day, while ₹11 crore in revenue was lost on the fourth day. More than the financial losses, inconvenience to the public was our major worry. As it was the festive season, we had more bookings than usual, so our losses were 98%. Now, all operations have resumed. We respect the court’s decision and will function accordingly.”

An MSRTC official said, “The State Transport Minister and Chief Minister have already made it clear that the demand for the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission is impractical and would not be possible. Now, with the court’s directive to form a committee, MSRTC as a corporation shall have no role in the final decision, and will abide by the court's decision.” — With PTI inputs

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 4:35:28 AM |

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