As there is no sign of an end to the fortnight-long strike of contractual employees in the Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS), the latter has worked out an alternative to solve the problems arising out of the staff shortage caused by the absence of about 1,500 striking workers.
The AMTS has already started recruiting new conductors in place of contractual striking employees. Initially, it will employ 100 conductors in groups of 8 to 10. The recruitment drive is being done by inducting new conductors who will be drawn from Ahmedabad Janmarg Ltd (AJL).
“It will take some time before they are fully initiated into the service of AMTS because they will have to be imparted training as conductor before taking charge,” said a senior official of AMTS.
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These conductors will be taken via the AJL tendering process for recruitment. This will instill a sense of urgency to return to work among the striking staff, says Arjav Shah, transport manager and deputy municipal commissioner.
However, Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha (GMS), the representative union of striking staff, is planning to challenge this move. Amrish Patel, general secretary of GMS, has said that the AMTS recruiting fresh staff while the strike was still on, was not permissible under labour laws. “This step is suicidal for the AMTS and we will challenge this, to stop these appointments,” he said.
As of now, the AMTS management has converted drivers and other staff to work as bus conductors on routes where the staff crunch is felt more. Meanwhile, the judgment in the case of striking workers is slated to be delivered by the High Court on October 13.
“They are taking work of conductors from drivers. Tomorrow, we are going to submit a letter of all drivers that this is a coercive action. You are pressurising us to work as conductors. We protest. It is impermissible under the Motor Vehicles Act. Please stop it otherwise we will be constrained to take action,” Patel said.
It may be recalled that the AMTS had terminated the services of 63 contractual employees who had ignored a notice issued to them to join the duty within 48 hours last week. The staff on strike promptly moved court and got the termination order stayed within two days. The case of 63 terminated staff will come up for hearing on October 17 in Industrial Tribunal.