AFTER 18 days, the Haryana Roadways employees will resume their duties from Saturday, following the intervention of Punjab and Haryana High Court. The employee unions have assured the High Court that they would join their duties by 10 am on Saturday. The Haryana Roadways service has a fleet of about 4,000 buses which cater to over 12 lakh passengers daily.
Opposing a Haryana Government decision to hire 720 buses on kilometre basis, the roadways employees had gone on strike from October 16 terming it an attempt to privatise the transport services, an allegation strongly denied by the government.
Following a PIL, the matter had reached to the High Court on Thursday which appointed senior advocate Anupam Gupta as Amicus Curiae in the matter. Some office-bearers of employees unions were also present in the court.
“On our asking, they (office-bearers) appeared before us and on our persuasion they have agreed to withdraw the strike and assured the Court that from tomorrow (Saturday) morning 10 am, the vehicles would start plying,” said a division bench comprising Chief Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Arun Palli in the order.
Employees’ leaders Hari Narayan Sharma, Balwan Singh Dodwal, Sultan Singh and Nasib Jakhar gave an assurance to the court in this regard. “They have also expressed concern over the apathy shown by government authorities with respect to their demands which they have been raising for quite some time. On our asking, learned Advocate General, appearing for the State of Haryana, assured that once the strike is called off the parties shall sit together and negotiate to come to an amicable settlement,” mentioned the division bench in the order.
Till then, as an interim order, the High Court directed that no coercive action including arrest of any of the office bearers of the unions shall be affected till next date of the hearing which would be November 14.
“The orders passed by the State authorities in respect of suspension, disciplinary proceedings and dismissal of employees on probation shall remain suspended till further orders of this court and all the employees shall be permitted by the State authorities to join and attend to their respective duties immediately. Any proceedings or action pending against any of the employees under Haryana Essential Service Maintenance Act, 1974 (ESMA), shall remain in abeyance till further orders of this court. The directions issued herein above shall apply to the employees of other departments as well who had proceeded on strike in solidarity with the call given by the employees of the Haryana State Transport Department.”
The High Court made it clear that these directions have been issued by it in view of the statement made by office bearers of the union that the strike shall be called off and all the employees shall resume their duties by 10 am on Saturday. “In case the strike is not called off by 10 am, the order shall lose its efficacy and shall be ineffective.” The High Court said, “In view of the statement made by learned Advocate General, Haryana, it would be desirable that both the parties make earnest and sincere efforts to sit together to resolve the issue”.
The employees have been raising voice against privatisation of public services. However, the government said it hired private buses because the roadways fleet can’t cater need of all passengers. The employees offered to contribute salary to buy more buses for roadways fleet, though, the government said it had already signed agreement with the bus operators and can’t back out from the same at this stage.
When two meetings between the union leaders and government functionaries failed to yield any positive result, both sides hardened their stand. Meanwhile, the strike paralysed the transport services in the state despite efforts by the government to make alternative arrangements.
The government started taking disciplinary action against agitators while unions of other departments also joined hand with the agitators even taking mass casual leave for one day and going on strike for two days.