Contractual workers of the state-owned Punjab State Bus Stand Management Company- Punbus- that comes under the Punjab Roadways are on a three-day strike from Tuesday, July 2, demanding regularisation of their jobs and increased salary.
More than 4,500 workers have come in support of the strike which is being organised under the banner of Punjab Roadways Punbus Contractual Workers’ Union that is affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
"Contractual employees have been working for the past several years but they have not been regularised," said a protesting member of the union in Ludhiana on Tuesday. They claimed that drivers and conductors were being paid a meagre amount of Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000 per month as salaries.
Also read: Punjab Roadways Workers Observe Strike 6th Time in 2018
The protesters held demonstrations at several bus depots including the ones at Ludhiana and Amritsar and raised slogans against the state government for not acceding to their long pending demands.
The Punbus has a fleet of about 1,900 buses in the state and almost 400 buses are being operated under the Punjab Roadways.
“Punbus operates under Punjab Roadways and most of the workers there are either contractual or outsourced. It is almost 15 years since Punbus was formed. The contract system itself is illegal and now they have started outsourcing workers. So, we demand that the outsourcing should be stopped,” said Raghunath Singh of CITU.
“Punbus and Punjab Roadways should be merged together and people who have been working here in Punbus for last 10-15 years should be regularised,” Singh said, adding that there should be equal pay for equal work.
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On the second day of protest, the workers will 'gherao' the residence of Punjab Transport Minister Razia Sultana at Malerkotla in Sangrur as part of their protest. After the three-day strike, the workers will decide their future course of action.
When asked about the impact of Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2016, Singh said that the new policy is actually harming the public transport system. “Protests against the policy of the government- amendment in the Motor Vehicle Act- have been increasing day by day from every spectrum,” he said.
The government, however, claims the amendments make Indian roads safer and drastically reduce the chances of accidents as, among other proposals, it heavily hikes the penalties for traffic offences. But the transport sector associations have been pointing out that instead of strengthening road safety and regulatory mechanisms, the amendments are an attempt to hand over the core road transport sector – including licensing, registration, maintenance and spare parts market – to the corporates.
Also read: Motor Workers Protest, Say Amendment Bill Will Hand Over Transport Sector to Corporates
(With inputs from PTI)