In a bid to mount pressure on the Manohar Lal Khattar Government, Haryana roadways employees extended their ongoing strike till November 2 even as it entered its fourteenth day on Monday.
Protesting against the Haryana Government's decision to hire 700 buses from private owners in the state, the roadways employees have been on strike since October 16 making it the biggest and longest-ever agitation launched by them.
Several rounds of meetings between the State Government and roadways employees have failed to reach any consensus as both remained adamant on their respective stand on hiring of private buses in state Transport Department.
While the State Government claims that the roadways employees are returning to their duties and roadways buses are plying in various parts, various government employees’ union will now be joining a two-day statewide strike on October 30-31, in support of demand of roadways employees.
The two days statewide strike by employees of power corporations, schools, universities, municipal corporations, panchayat samitis among other organizations is likely to spell trouble for the State Government as official work will be badly hit due to the proposed strike.
“The government employees from various departments, boards, corporations, municipalities and panchayati raj institutions will go on a two-day strike from October 30 in support of roadways employees,” Subhash Lamba, general secretary of the Sarv Karamchari Sangh, Haryana, said.
“The State Government has not taken back its decision to hire 700 private buses even as roadways employees strike entered its fourteen day. Now, even after the two-day strike from October 30, if the government does not roll back its decision and withdraw cases under the Essential Services Maintenance Act registered against the striking transport workers, we will start a 'Pol Khol' campaign against the government,” he said.
He added if the government is facing dearth of funds to buy 700 odd buses for Haryana Roadways, the government employees from all departments are ready to contribute and meet these expenses from their salaries.
The employees unions have also demanded withdrawal of enforcements of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) in the state.
In a meeting with agitating employees last week, the State Government had offered to reconsider its decision on 190 private buses as the tenders for the same were yet to be finalised, but remained firm on 510 buses, saying it cannot be reworked as the Cabinet had already decided on this matter and signed an agreement to this effect.
The employees' union, however, has remained adamant on their demand that the tenders issued until now be cancelled under the kilometre scheme.
There are about 19,000 employees in the Haryana Roadways. The roadways, having a fleet of 4,100 buses, cater to about 12 lakh passengers daily.
“A day before, as many as 2503 buses plied on different routes of Haryana. As many as 284 employees have been suspended while services of other72 have been terminated on Sunday,” a government’s spokesman said.
Transport Minister Krishan Lal Panwar on Monday maintained that the government will hire 700 private buses. The decision to hire the private buses was taken in the cabinet meeting and cannot be withdrawn, he said.
The Minister also appealed to the agitating employees to join their duties.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Monday lashed out at the State Government for failing to resolve the issues of government employees.
The people of entire Haryana are suffering due to the lackadaisical approach of the BJP led Haryana Government. On one hand they are ignoring the general public who are suffering due to roadways strike and on the other, the government is ignoring the genuine demand of its employees, he said.
Hooda had earlier demanded an inquiry into the hiring of private buses under kilometre scheme.
While criticizing the government, Leader of opposition and INLD’s senior leader Abhay Chautala said that it is unfortunate that the government is adamant on privatization of state roadways.
Instead of hiring private buses, the government should work on improving the services and buying more buses for state roadways, he added.
After Congress and INLD, left parties have also announced to extend their support to the agitating roadways employees.
In a joint statement, Surender Singh (CPI-M), Dariyav Singh Kashyap (CPI)M Satyavan (SUCI-C) and Prem Singh Gahlot (CPI-ML) alleged that the strike of roadways is due to the adamant attitude of BJP Government. The left parties will observe statewide protest day on Wednesday, they announced.