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Contractual Bus Staff Slam Punjab Govt for Delaying Regularisation, Go on Indefinite Strike

Most of the buses belonging to the Punjab Roadways (PUNBUS) and PEPSU Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) stayed off the road on Tuesday due to the strike.

Striking employees demonstrated at all the 27 bus depots in the state on Tuesday. Image Courtesy - Special Arrangement 

New Delhi: As the wait continues for the introduction of regularisation policies in state-owned bus services in Punjab, its contractual employees have again decided to strike across the state from Tuesday onwards.

The majority of the buses belonging to both the Punjab Roadways (PUNBUS) and PEPSU Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) stayed off the road on Tuesday, as striking employees demonstrated at all the 27 bus depots in the state.

Having received assurances from the Congress-led state government multiple times in recent months, the weary contractual employees lament that wait for the regularisation of their post still continues.

The Punjab Roadways/PUNBUS and PRTC Contractual Workers' Union, an umbrella workers' body spearheading the struggle, declared on Tuesday that the workers' strike will not be called off until the long-pending notification of regularisation of the bus staff members is issued.

"We will not join our duties until our major demand – regularisation of our posts – is met," Gurpreet Singh Pannu, state secretary of the contractual workers' union, told Newsclick while speaking over the phone from Punjab's Kapurthala district. He added that barring the permanent workforce, all the contractual staff members of both the bus services were on strike.

There are around 8,000 contractual employees in PUNBUS and PRTC, including drivers, conductors, clerical and booking staff, and the bus workshop staff. Among their other demands, the employees are also pressing to increase the fleet size of government bus services to at least 10,000 and implement the 'equal pay for equal work' framework.

In September this year, the aggrieved bus employees had staged an indefinite strike that lasted for over two weeks, causing the state-transport services daily losses worth over Rs 18 lakh. "We called off the strike then after the [Congress] government agreed to increase our salaries and further assured us that the regularisation notification will be passed in the next Cabinet meet," said Pannu on Tuesday.

Pannu added that a similar meeting between the union delegation and the Congress government was held another time after Charanjit Singh Channi replaced Captain Amrinder Singh as the Punjab Chief Minister. In that meeting, similar assurances were given over the matter to be taken up in the Cabinet meeting, but to no avail.

Newsclick had earlier reported how the issue of outsourcing and contractualisation dates back to 2003 when, for the first time, outsourcing of jobs was introduced in PRTC. Similarly, job outsourcing was introduced in Punjab Roadways in 2007. Since then, the contractual employees complained that the bus services' regular jobs declined.

The contractual workers' union argued that regularisation of the existing posts would ensure job security for thousands of bus employees. It would also make them eligible for social security provisions, including provident fund (PF) and employees' state insurance (ESI), according to the union.

Furthermore, on Tuesday, the contractual workers' union leaders also flayed the Punjab government for resorting to filing cases against the union members in several districts and suppressing the protests. "Such tactics will only strengthen our movement. Instead, the government must immediately accept our demands," Pannu said.











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