Within hours of CITU-sponsored West Bengal Transport Workers Federation called a 24-hour statewide transport strike on July 31 demanding hike in bus and taxi fares,Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee threatened to stop the subsidy paid to the government-owned transport companies if they joined the strike.
Every year the state government pays Rs 600 crore as subsidy to the ailing transport companies,which are mostly controlled by CITU,the labour union wing of the CPM.
While lashing out at the CPM for calling the strike,the CM said her government would throw all its might in foiling the strike. We are paying salaries to these employees,who are close to the CPM and sitting idle. With that money we can buy new buses which can mitigate the sufferings of the people, Mamata said.
The city had witnessed a taxi strike on Wednesday.
Mamata also said that if the unions went on with the strike,Trinamool Congress supporters would take out rallies at various localities demanding the CPM to return money which they had borrowed in the last 34 years when they were in the power. We will not allow this bandh to happen. Government offices and factories will remain open and all buses will have to ply on the roads. We will definitely think of cancelling licences of those buses which will not ply on the roads on that day, the chief minister said.
Mamata also said that the government was in touch with insurance companies to provide coverage for the buses that will be operational on that day.
We will provide full protection to those who take out their buses. I appeal to people to foil the attempts of those with vested interests who give the call for such bandhs, she added.
Hitting back at the chief minister,state CITU president Shyamal Chakrabarty said the government was showing absolute insensitiveness towards the issue. Whom is she threatening? How can she stop subsidies. It is not fair, Chakrabarty said.
The chief minister on Wednesday ruled out any hike in fares saying it would affect the common people and termed the strike as an act of mischief. CITU members claimed 3,500 buses have so far been withdrawn across the state due to mounting losses and 17,000 workers have been rendered jobless. With PTI inputs