MSRTC strike Day 4: Stand-off continues over pay hike for bus drivers under 7th Pay Commission
State transport buses kept off the streets of Maharashtra for the fourth day as the strike called by Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) employees demanding an increase in their salaries as per recommendations by the 7th Pay Commission. State government has held several rounds of meetings with the MSRTC representatives but to no avail. While the employee unions show no signs of letting up on the strike, Maharashtra government has refused to hold further talks till the MSRTC employees resume their duties.
The strike has kept a fleet of 19,000 buses operated by MSRTC from running across Maharashtra, along with almost 1 lakh MSRTC employees. The MSRTC has already agreed to hike salaries of its employees as per the recommendations by the 7th Pay Commission. This would have reportedly increase MSRTC employees' salaries by Rs 4,000 to Rs 15,000 depending on their seniority and put additional burden of Rs 1,100 crore on the corporation. But the employee unions are dissatisfied with the hike.
"We tried to present the options with the maximum possible hike. But the unions remain dissatisfied with the amount sanctioned. We have tried to offer the maximum hike ever in the 77-year history of the organisation. We appeal to them to withdraw the strike," Raote said in a statement.
State Transport Minister Diwakar Raote met the representatives of MSRTC employees for a lengthy discussion over the matter on Wednesday, but without any results. The employee unions are not willing to call off the strike before their demands are met. On the other hand, Maharastra government claims that demands for salary hike cannot be met as the state transport corporation cannot afford to award the pay rise being demanded.
Maharashtra agreed in July to adopt the suggestions made by the 7th Pay Commission regarding pay and pension, but maintained that it would take around nine months to fully implement the changes mentioned by the pay panel.
While the state government urged the MSRTC employees to return to their jobs as commuters were facing troubles, the MSRTC employee unions blamed government for the impasse. "As per the rule, we had given a notice for strike 40 days in advance. But the administration remained under the impression that we would accept their terms," a senior member of the state transport union was quoted by PTI.
On the other hand, the MSRTC claims to have held series of meetings to explain to its employees that the demands of pay hike are not financially possible, despite which the employee unions started the strike.