Public transport services will come to a halt in the state as three unions of Gujarat State Road Transport Service (GSRTC) have threatened to go on a two-day mass casual leave — March 16 and 17. The unions have given 51 demands, including to not develop bus terminuses on the Public-Private Partnership (PPP), release of sixth pay commission arrears, which has been pending since 2006, and implementation of the seventh pay commission, a union office-bearer said.
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With the Class X and XII board exams beginning Wednesday, students from the rural areas who mainly depend on GSRTC services will face difficulties in commuting to their examination centres. Over 1.56 lakh students are appearing in the board exams this year.
All the 45,000 employees of GSRTC are members of three unions — Gujarat State Employees Union, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and ST Workers Federation. The GSRTC has the fleet strength of 8,000 buses.
Kaushal Desai, general secretary, GSRTC Gujarat State Employees Union, said, “We want our demands to be fulfilled immediately. Earlier also, we have put forth our demands, but the government handed out lollipops. We have, this time, decided to fight it out and settle only for a written commitment from the government. We don’t want to play with the future of the students, but our demand is also important. Our children will also appear in the board exams and we will also face difficulty.”
He added, “Earlier in 2010, we had gone on mass casual leave, seeking to fulfill our pending demands and we got immense support from the GSRTC employees. This time also we will succeed as we are getting their full support. If our demands are not met, all the 45,000 employees from different parts of Gujarat, will reach GSRTC head office at Naroda area in Ahmedabad and stage protest on March 17. Not a single GSRTC bus will ply on the roads on March 16-17. We will also do chakka jam programme in Ahmedabad and government will be held responsible. We are not afraid of getting detained or arrested by police. We are ready to go to jails.”
Surat City and District Education Officer U N Rathod said he was not aware of the mass CL plan by the GSRTC employees. “There certainly would be a great problem for the students staying in villages as they solely depend on GSRTC for transport. We are also helpless for the students of villages as there is no other option.”