Maharashtra: MSRTC staffers continue strike, Parab warns of strict action

A DAY after the state government announced a pay hike to the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) workers to end the nearly a month-long strike, the strike continued on Thursday with almost all the depots shut.

Transport Minister Anil Parab has now given an ultimatum to the staffers to return to the work within two days and if they fail to do so, stricter action will be taken by the government.

On Thursday, nearly 9,705 employees reported to work and till 7 pm, the MSRTC managed to run 457 buses and transport 11,188 passengers which is on the higher side and buses from several depots like Jalgaon, Sangli and Raigad started running.

Except for 261 buses, all other buses were privately owned and operated Shivneri and Shivshahi buses.

After the announcement of pay hike, BJP MLCs Gopichand Padalkar and Sadabhau Khot, who were sitting with agitating staffers on Azad Maidan in South Mumbai since November 10, announced withdrawing of the strike on Thursday morning at their level claiming it is a win for the striking staffers and it’s a temporary withdrawal since the government has taken two steps forward by increasing the pay.

Both of them called it a temporary withdrawal and said that in future they will again start the strike, if needed, for the merger of the MSRTC.

“We are withdrawing the strike. It’s on the staffers now whether they want to continue with the strike or not. Since the beginning, we were saying it was not our strike but the staffers’ strike to which we only extended support and took part. We are still with the workers and whenever there is a need, we will again join them,” said Padalkar.

Meanwhile, Sangharsh ST Union and Rajya Kanishth Vetan Shreni ST Kamgar Sanghatna presidents interacted with the workers at Azad Maidan. Many ST employees in the state are suspended and officials in corporations are saying that they will not get the same salary for November. As a result, both the organizations said they would not back down, and they would insist on the strike.

Ajay Kumar Gujar, president of Rajya Kanishth Vetan Shreni ST Kamgar Sanghatna, said that the strike will continue. “Let me make it clear once again that this fight is by the workers and not organised by any political parties. It does not have the strength of any political party. Political parties are supporting the demands of ST workers as they see it fit,” he said.