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DTC Workers Vote for Historic Strike on October 29

Over 10,000 workers voted in favour of the strike to intensify their protest against reduced wages and privatisation of buses.
DTC Strike

A historic strike by DTC workers is about to take place as the call for strike ballot on September 25-28 resulted in 10,069 people - almost 98.2 per cent- voting in favour of the strike. For a long time, the workers have been protesting against privatisation of buses, reduced wages, and their exploitation, but to no avail. Following a long drawn struggle, a call for strike ballot was given to take the decision for a strike in an attempt to intensify their struggle. The strike is now scheduled to take place on October 29.

“We are happy that the vote count came in our favour. We decided to have a democratic process in place where people are allowed to vote in favour or against. And the majority of votes are in the favour of a strike, so we are going ahead with it now," said Abhishek, General Secretary, AICCTU, Delhi.

‘Same work, Same pay’

The call for strike has been taken against the backdrop of reduced wages of contractual workers. “Contractual workers do the same work as that of permanent workers yet they are paid less and exploited,” said Santosh, a DTC worker. Recently, DTC had reduced the wages of contractual workers – including drivers and conductors – following a High Court order which had quashed a March 2017 notification of revising the minimum wages for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers in the city, citing it as “ultra vires Article 14” of the Constitution of India. Following the judgement, DTC had passed a circular according to which it had decided to pay minimum wages to its workers.

The circular read, “Pending receipt of the orders from GNCTD on the subject, it has now been decided by the DTC to pay the minimum rates of wages to its workmen/ contractual employees as per the following formula: Last minimum wages paid to all class of workmen/employees before issuance of GNCTD’s notification dated 3.3.2017 which was effective from 1.10.2016 plus two DA applicable w.e.f. 1.4.2017 & 1.4.2018.” Since then, the disgruntled workers had been protesting against the DTC’s circular, but now they have decided to intensify their struggle with the strike.

“This is the second time that we are going for a strike ballot in DTC. The last strike took place in March, 1988 and it was a huge strike and a historic one. After the strike, nearly 15 workers were jailed and around 3000 were terminated,” said Santosh, while recalling the strike which took place in 1988. However, the strike will be taking place in the backdrop of three major demands raised by the workers - Equal Pay for equal work, taking back the circular on the reduction of salary and no to private buses in DTC.

Workers also fear privatisation of DTC. “See, private buses have their own staff – conductors and drivers. Our work is undermined that way. We don’t have a problem with private buses but with their private staff. When we are working here, why should they have their own staff. That is the basic question. We are being exploited by DTC,” Rajesh, a DTC worker told NewsClick recently.

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