PUNE: The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) workers went on an unannounced strike in the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, which forced thousands of passengers to cancel their tickets or reschedule their travel plans. However, drivers and conductors are blaming the State Transport Minister for misleading them on the salary hike.
“There is no clarity on the wage hike. While the minister went to town announcing that a Rs 4,800 crore wage hike has been given to ST workers, we haven’t got that kind of a hike in our salaries. There has hardly been Rs 700-1,000 hike in our monthly salary. The workers continue to work for Rs 10,000 to Rs 18,000 per month despite years of service. Is it possible to sustain with such a monthly salary? Our demand is not unrealistic. We work hard in odd shifts. Yet, the arrogant minister tells us that if we are not ready to work on these wages, we should resign,” said Sanjay Wakadkar, a senior staffer at the Shivajinagar depot.
“Unlike last time, we haven’t stopped outstation buses. Last time, our friends from other far-off depots were stranded in Pune for several days. The administration had made their lives miserable by locking up restrooms. This time, we are letting them finish the ongoing trips so that they can go back to their homes. Except those who are close to the party of the minister, are participating in the strike,” said Sarjerao Janjhal, a driver.
This is the second strike by MSRTC staffers within a year. The last one went on for four days in the middle of Diwali vacations causing hardships to passengers. The strike was withdrawn after the intervention of the Bombay High Court as well as the State Transport Minister’s promise to set up a committee to recommend a formula for the wage revision.
However, unlike October 2017 strike, all workers’ unions are not part of this strike. While the ST Kamgar Sanghatana, the Maharashtra Motor Kamgar Federation, the Maharashtra ST Workers’ Congress are supporting the strike, some other unions such as the ST Kamgar Sena are against it.