MUMBAI: Maharashtra Transport Minister Anil Parab has warned of strict action against the ST employees if they don't withdraw their strike tomorrow morning. He added that the state government agreed to their demands and the workers need to resume their duties.
In a bid to end the near-month-long strike of MSRTC employees, Parab on Wednesday announced a salary hike. The average Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 5,000 hike in basic salaries would be the “highest in the history” of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, the state-run bus service, he said, appealing employees to call off the agitation. Parab announced on Wednesday evening after a prolonged meeting with a delegation of MSRTC employees here.
The salary hike will be given as per the years of service criterion and will put an additional monthly burden of Rs. 60 crore and an annual burden of Rs. 750 crore on the state government, he said. BJP Members of Legislative Council Sadabhau Khot and Gopichand Padalkar, who have been leading the agitation and who took part in the talks with Parab, said they will announce their stand on the strike.
The employees’ main demand is the merger of the cash-strapped corporation with the state government. The strike started on October 28 and intensified from November 9 when all depots of MSRTC shut down.
Parab also discussed with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray at HN Reliance hospital where the chief minister is recovering after a medical procedure, and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar who also holds the finance portfolio, sources said.
The three-member committee is headed by the state chief secretary to study the issue of MSRTC ‘s merger with the state government, and sources said Maharashtra ST Karmachari Congress leader Shrirang Barge had submitted his group’s demands, including the merger of the undertaking with the government and its budget with that of the latter.
Earlier in the day, an official said the number of staffers reporting to work amid the strike has increased to over 8,000 now, against an average of 7,500 last week.
“A total of 8,343 out of 92,266 employees reported at work today. These comprised 5,759 administrative employees, 2,060 workshop workers, 330 drivers, and 194 conductors,” an MSRTC spokesperson said on Monday.
During the day, some workers agitated in front of state transport minister Anil Parab’s home near Mantralaya and tried to smear the walls with black colour, though it was thwarted by police.