Earlier today, seven agitating staffers of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) have been suspended and arrested for creating ruckus and engaging in violence, a senior government official said.
Nearly one lakh employees of the state-run transport body, mostly bus drivers and conductors, are on an indefinite strike since October 16 midnight demanding a pay hike.
Five staffers, including drivers and conductors, were suspended when they forced a senior MSRTC functionary at Saoner depot under Nagpur division to wear bangles, the official said.
A case was reported in this regard with the nearest police station and the five were arrested, said the senior official.
Two more staffers were suspended and later arrested by police from Ramtek depot in Nagpur when they engaged in violence and threw stones at private buses.
“This case, too, was reported to us (MSRTC) as well as the local police station and action was initiated as per the law,” said the official.
The MSRTC employees are demanding a hike in salary in line with the 7th Pay Commission recommendations. Their strike, which entered the fourth day today, has caused hardships to thousands of long-distance passengers planning to travel to their hometowns for Diwali.
The MSRTC has 17,500 buses in its fleet that make 56,756 trips everyday. The corporation, which has 1,02,980 employees, has an annual turnover of Rs 7,000 crore. The transport undertaking incurs a loss of little less Rs 2 crore per day (pre-strike figure).
Asked whether the corporation was in a position to ensure operation of private buses, the official said, “Yes, we could manage to run 26 private buses today. But honestly speaking, these are too little to meet the demand.”
“In addition, private bus owners had already booked their passengers ahead of Diwali. Therefore, they are transporting their own passengers,” said the official.
Meanwhile, in Sangli in western Maharashtra, a group of striking employees threw stones at a private vehicle. However, no injuries were reported in the stone-pelting incident.