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Strike cripples Haryana bus services, government refuses to budge

Posted on Jan 20 2014 | IANS

Chandigarh, Jan 20 : Tens of thousands of passengers were left harried as employees of the state-run roadways buses Monday went on strike.

The four-day strike, called by the Haryana Roadways Employees union, was largely successful in most districts, union leaders claimed.

Employees from other government departments like electricity, health, ministerial staff, water, tourism, boards and corporations have also threatened to go on a three-day strike from Tuesday.

Barring minor clashes with police at 3-4 places, the roadways' strike remained peaceful across Haryana.

Haryana Roadways buses, which ferry nearly 10 lakh people daily, remained off roads at most places. Only a few buses plied on some routes with the local administration engaging contractual staff, new recruits and private staff.

The union had given the strike call in support of its demands and had refused to heed an appeal by the state government to call it off.

The association is demanding cancellation of 3,519 lucrative route permits to private bus operators across Haryana being given by the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led government in the state. They are also seeking regularisation of contract employees and other perks.

Over 19,000 employees are participating in the strike, union leader Sarbat Singh Poonia said. He said that nearly 3,900 buses remained off roads Monday.

Haryana Transport Minister Aftab Ahmed said that maximum demands of roadways employees have been accepted but they still continuing with the strike.

"On the issue of permits to private buses, their stand shows their stubbornness. Private bus permits will not harm the interests of the government employees in any manner. The state government would increase the fleet of roadways buses and not a single employee would be retrenched," Ahmed said, while appealing to the striking employees to resume work.

Haryana Director General of Police S.N. Vashisht meanwhile said that no one would be allowed to take law in their hands and all measures have been taken to ensure that life was not affected in the state.

At most places, the employees started the strike at midnight but the major effect was felt only in the morning when people, especially office-goers and students, kept waiting for the buses.

As a result, private buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws had a field day as they fleeced passengers.

"I had to reach Panipat from Ambala for an important meeting but I was stranded at the bus stand. I had to take a private taxi for Rs.500 to reach there. The passengers are being harassed in this stand-off between the roadways employees and the state government," a harried passenger, Madan Lal Sharma of Ambala, told IANS.

In Rohtak town, nearly 30 employees' union leaders were detained, union general secretary Dharambir Singh claimed.

Ahmed claimed that about 1,000 roadways buses plied Monday in districts like Sonipat, Mewat and Rohtak.

"As per the directions of the chief minister, 14 demands of roadways employees have been accepted but the behaviour of employees who are still on strike clearly shows that they have no interest with the regularization of 8,500 contractual employees.

He said that buses will be plied Tuesday onwards also through outsourcing and hiring contractual staff.

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