The strike by the staff members of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) over a number of grievances paralysed commute across the State on Monday, leaving thousands of travellers stranded at bus depots.
Operations at more than 220 of the 250 MSRTC depots remained closed since morning, with not a single bus stirring out of the depots. Till Sunday, 120 depots were shut across Maharashtra, but the number shot to 223 after midnight, with more staff members joining the agitation.
The main demands of the striking employees are the merger of the cash-strapped corporation with the State Government and the payment of their long-delayed salaries.
Although the demand for the merger is not new, the delay in payment of salaries due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown and the suicides of over 30 employees since March 2020 triggered a spontaneous agitation last week.
While the State government and the MSRTC did accept most of the demands following which many workers resumed work, a sticking point turned to be the merger issue, which resulted in an unannounced strike at some depots last week.
The intensity of today’s strike was particularly felt in Pune and other districts including the Nashik division and Marathwada.The employees’ unions have repeatedly complained about the mismanagement on part of the Maharashtra government despite Transport Minister Anil Parab having announced a financial package in November last year.
Bus operations from all the four stations in Pune — Wakdewadi, Swargate, Chinchwad, Pune Station — remained suspended, affecting thousands of commuters who had booked return tickets.