The one-day strike call by staffers of Haryana’s government buses paralysed public transport services in the state Tuesday, with employees claiming that all 4,000 buses remained off roads.
The strike was called to oppose inclusion of 720 private buses under the state government’s hiring scheme on km basis apart from joining the call of nationwide strike against the provisions of Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill. The Bill has already been passed in the Lok Sabha while it is yet to get nod from Rajya Sabha.
Leaders of Haryana Roadways Karamchari Sayunkat Sangharsh Samiti Inder Singh Badhana, Sarbat Singh Punia, Virender Singh Dhankar and Pahal Singh Tanwar said in a statement that the state government as well the Centre should take a lesson from the successful strike as “it was reflection of anger among the employees against the anti-employees and anti-common men policies of the government.”
When The Indian Express correspondent visited local bus stand at Panchkula, all government buses were found parked inside it whereas the protesting employees were found sitting on a dharna in front of the bus stand. They were also singing folk songs to keep the momentum alive. A local trader union leader Vijender Rohila told The Indian Express that the buses from other states like Punjab and Himachal Pradesh also did not come to the bus stand to ferry the passengers. Though, few private buses were ferrying the passengers from the main road outside the bus stand.
However, Haryana Transport Minister Krishan Lal Panwar said as many as 500 government buses and 950 buses of cooperative societies (private players) played on the roads despite strike by the employees. “There is need of 15,000 buses to cater needs of all 33 lakh passengers in the state but we are able to provide services to 12.5 lakh passengers only with our buses. In the absence of sufficient funds, the government can’t purchase so many buses in one go. In 2017-18, we had purchased 600 buses while 650 buses would be purchased during the current financial year,” said Panwar.
On the other hand, the employees argued that the government needs to purchase 14,000 new buses which may give employment to 84,000 youths for different posts including of drivers and conductors paving the way to resolve the problem of unemployment to a great extent. They alleged that the central government wants to open up the public transport sector for private players to privatise the transport services.
“Such provisions will just give scope to big private companies to capture the public transport services in the name of privatisation,” said Sarbat Singh Punia.
The unions have also opposed more stricter provisions of punishment in the cases of accidents including sharp enhancement in the fines for violation of traffic rules claiming that “such provisions would make it difficult to drive on roads.”
Panwar has made it clear that the state government was not privatising the transport services adding that it was just hiring buses to facilitate the passengers. “Those drivers who have not completed their probation period may face termination for participating in the strike,” said Panwar. However, the union leaders have said that they may resort to a bigger stir, if the government takes action against the drivers or conductors. They have also called a meeting at Jind Wednesday.