Updated: November 10, 2021 11:39:11 pm
Amid an appeal in “folded hands” by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to employees of MSRTC asking them not to “hold poor and common commuters hostage” with their strike, the state transport provider suspended 542 more staffers for participating in the stir – taking the total number of employees suspended so far to 918.
The strike, meanwhile, continued with all 250 depots shut and bus services unavailable across the state on Wednesday. Hundreds of MSRTC staffers also gathered at Azad Maidan in South Mumbai and held a rally to press for their demands.
On Tuesday, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) had suspended 376 employees, terming it as “disciplinary action”.
MSRTC employees have been on strike since October 27, demanding the merger of the corporation with the state government in order to be eligible to avail salaries and benefits as government employees.
MSRTC officials said the employees were suspended as they remained on strike even after the government had accepted most of their demands and a high-level committee was formed to look into the issue of the corporation’s merger following instructions from the Bombay High Court.
Meanwhile, State Transport (ST) Minister Anil Parab, who is also the Chairman of the ST corporation, held a meeting with the joint action committee of the employees and asked them to withdraw the protest.
Pravin Darekar, the Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Council, along with legislators Gopichand Padalkar and Sadabhau Khot and BJP leader Kirit Somaiya, met the employees at the Azad Maidan rally. Darekar told the staffers not to rely on “oral assurance and take everything in writing.”
In a statement, CM Thackeray asked MSRTC employees to withdraw the strike and stop the “suffering of commuters”. He said, “For the last few days, the state government has been trying its best to give you relief by accepting your demands. Even before the High Court, the government has stated what steps it is taking to resolve the issue and the court is also satisfied. We have also appointed a special committee to look into the matter as directed by the court.”
He added, “In such a situation, I would like to request you with folded hands to please do not hold the poor and common commuters in the state as hostage. Already, we have been fighting with coronavirus for two years now. Therefore, I once again humbly request you to support the efforts of the government.”
Thackeray also urged the Opposition parties not to politicise the issue by “instigating” the staffers, stating this was “not the time for politics”.
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