Underpaid transport staff seek better package

Ratan Shende had joined the Baramati depot of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation on April 4,2004,as a helper on a salary of Rs 1,400 a month.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni | Pune | Published:July 11, 2009 12:27 am

Ratan Shende had joined the Baramati depot of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) on April 4,2004,as a helper on a salary of Rs 1,400 a month. And today,his basic salary is Rs 2,500,given the annual increment of Rs 240 (Rs 20 a month). “It’s difficult to survive with such meagre amount,” says Shende who was promoted as senior helper in April this year,five years from his date of joining.

Shende is just one among the 5,200 MSRTC employees in the district who have been facing such hardships for years. The corporation announced an overall profit of Rs 283 crore in 2008-09,but none of that has reflected on their payslips. Overburdened,underpaid and sore with the age-old rules governing them,these workers claim to have no motivation to deliver up to the corporation’s logo — Help All Serve All.

The basic salary for those joining MSRTC is Rs 1,400 and they become permanent after 180 days. But unlike other state departments where junior payscales are upgraded after three years,these employees remain on the same scale for five years.

Though they are entitled to night allowance and incentives,the employees maintain the amounts are meagre and remain unchanged for years. “We get Rs 10 as night allowance,which is provided to the driver and conductor during overnight journeys for food. We end up spending our own money. Also,the incentives offered are nine paise for 150 km,15 paise for 200 km and 20 paise for 250 km covered. These have not been revised for the past 15 years,” said Arvind Jagtap who has been working as conductor for the past 28 years.

As per rules,the government needs six people for each vehicle. Pune division has 1,025 buses,for which a total of 6,150 transport and workshop staff are the ideal requirement. The actual number,though,is 3,840 transport and 900 workshop staffers.

The workers have been opting for independent contracts with the MSRTC. “But we could never avail ourselves of the benefits as the department has been incurring losses for years. This time,we have approached the government with a contract based on the Sixth Pay Commission,with a proposal of cancelling the junior payscale or at least reducing it to three years. They have promised a decision by July 15,failing which we will go for a chakka jam andolan,” said Dilip Parab,divisional secretary,State Transport Workers’ Union.

Shivaji Sonawane,divisional controller,said the revised contract is in its final stages.

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