After a day-long ‘chakka jam’, the agitating Haryana Roadways employees’ unions called off their strike on Tuesday evening after the government agreed to their demand to scrap new transport policy that gave permits to private operators “on profitable routes”.
As many as 4,200 Haryana Roadways buses, including luxury Volvo buses, remained off road on Tuesday as employees called for a ‘chakka jam’ and struck work for a day to demand withdrawal of permits to private bus operators. The strike inconvenienced thousands who depend on Haryana Roadways buses for commuting. As many as about 13 lakh passengers travel by Haryana Roadways buses daily.
Later on Tuesday, both sides reached an agreement during talks between Transport Minister Krishan Lal Panwar and union leaders. After the meeting, Panwar said that they had reached a consensus with the employees and the strike had been withdrawn. “We will prepare a draft of new transport policy in consultation with the representatives of the employees’ unions within three days. Action will be taken against those private bus operators who will ply buses in contravention of rules,” Panwar said.
The bone of the contention was permits to private players for 844 buses on over 200 state routes. The government has been stating that there was nothing unusual in the move as just as many private buses were already plying for many years. However, as per the old transport policy, union leaders claimed, the private players were allowed to run buses only on link routes meant for rural areas. But under the new policy, they added, private players were issued permits even for National Highways and for profitable routes.
After the meeting with Transport Minister, General Secretary of Haryana Roadways Workers Union Sarbat Singh Punia said, “The government has agreed to scrap the transport policy of 2016-17 assuring us that no private buses will be allowed to run under this policy.”
The roadways employees had gone on a strike in April too. Even then the strike was called off after the state government and roadways employees’ unions reached a consensus to the end the strike on the fourth day. However, employees later alleged that the government did not keep its promise to scrap the new transport policy of 2016-17.
Over the past few days, there have been instances of conflict between roadways employees and private bus operators over the issue. “Today’s strike was completely successful in the state with all major employee unions of the transport department participating in the strike. But after a consensus with the government, the strike has been called off with immediate effect,” said Punia.