The Bombay High Court on Friday termed the strike by employees of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) as “illegal” and ordered it to be called off with immediate effect. Nearly 1 lakh MSRTC employees boycotted work from Tuesday, demanding salaries in accordance with the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations.
On Friday, the strike continued to inconvenience lakhs of commuters as people resumed work after Diwali. With only 14 buses plying statewide, the department tried to arrange for home guards from different regions, equipped with badges and licences, to operate the buses, but without success.
The corporation had agreed to pay a hike of up to 33 per cent on the basic pay of the salaries of each employee, which ranges between Rs 4,700-Rs 15,000. “We tried to present the options with the maximum possible hike. But the unions remain dissatisfied with the amount sanctioned. We have tried to offer the maximum hike ever in the 77-year history of the organisation. We appeal to them to withdraw the strike,” state Transport Minister Diwakar Raote had said.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held discussions with Raote, but the meeting failed to come to any conclusion. “Our demands are just and they have been pending for decades. The drivers and conductors work odd hours, travel six days a week and often develop ailments because of irregular sleeping hours and eating habits… but they get paid peanuts. I have worked for 11 years as a driver. My salary is only Rs 14,000… how will I manage,” said Sandip Patil, a driver.
“The attrition rate is phenomenal. Youngsters, who join as a driver or a conductor, leave within a year. Who will continue in such a hard job, that too for only Rs 8,000 a month,” said another driver Subhash Naik.