Lucknow: Ahead of the nationwide November 26 strike, Uttar Pradesh is set to witness a massive demonstration across the state as nearly 10,000 buses will be off-road on Wednesday, November 25. Nearly 40,000 drivers, conductors and other workers of Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) have decided to go on a one-day dharna in 75 districts against the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government against nationalised routes running private buses for the first time and other six key demands.
The other demands of the employees, under the banner of Sanyukt Sangharsh Morcha, include changing the pattern of nationalised routes, banning inter-state bus permits, abolish the barrier of 50% load factor on the salary of contract employees and regularisation of contractual employees till contract 2001 who have been working hard for several years.
Jaswant Singh, spokesperson of Sanyukt Morch, said that the demonstration will be held simultaneously in 75 districts, and over 40,000 regular employees and contractual workers will participate in the one-day strike. He also alleged that the move by the government to allow opening of two of its prime nationalised routes --Lucknow-Gorakhpur (via Ayodhya-Basti) and Lucknow-Agra-Noida Expressway (via Ring Road Kuberpur (Agra)-Pari Chowk) for running private buses for the first time is a part of a larger conspiracy to decimate the state-run corporation in favour of private operators, demanding rollback of the decision.
Earlier in September this year, the UP government had issued separate notifications for the two routes, which led to discontent among UPSRTC employees’ unions.
“The government's intention is suspicious as they have opened its two major nationalised routes for private bus operators recently and they will gradually finish the corporation in the favour of private players," Singh told NewsClick, adding that a memorandum will be sent to the Managing Director through the regional manager and assistant regional manager. A memorandum will also be submitted to the Minister of Transport and the Government of Uttar Pradesh.
Explaining their demands, Singh said, "There are around 12,000 buses plying in Uttar Pradesh under UPSRTC. Around 52,000 employees including drivers, conductors, workshop staff and others work very hard catering to the travel needs of lakhs of people. But out of these only 18,500 are permanent employees, whereas 34,000 are contractual workers. A large number of these contractual workers are getting less than Rs 10,000. They are facing huge financial hardship, not even able to properly look after their families. The government must take immediate cognisance of this issue and regularise them,” he said.
He further alleged that many of permanent employees in UP roadways are leaving jobs every day after witnessing exploitation of contractual workers by the government officials.
Extending their support to the cause, Anil, a veteran union leader of UPSRTC employees, told NewsClick, "Most of the contractual workers of UPSRTC have dedicated their entire lives for transport service on contractual basis in the hope that someday they will get permanent but the government whether the current Yogi Adityanath government or the previous Samajwadi government continued to fool them. Not regularising them is an act of injustice done by the state government."
Also read: Pending Salaries: Contractual Workers of Lucknow City Bus Service Threaten 'Chakka Jam'
Demanding regularisation of jobs and salaries in the same pay-scale as of permanent employees, Alamgir, a UPSTRC employee based in Meerut alleged "exploitation" by UPSTRC administration and said if their 7-point demands were not met, the union will go for an indefinite strike which will bring transportation to a standstill.
He further said that around 14,000 UPSRTC employees from across the state had staged a protest at the UPSRTC headquarters in Lucknow in 2019 to press their demands but officials had not taken any measure to resolve the matter. "This time around, we need a solution. It’s going to be a massive strike as UPSRTC permanent and contractual employees across the state will participate tomorrow. The strike will end only if our demands are met,” he said.
The transportation employees along with its union will also move to Delhi on November 25 evening along with farmers' unions to participate in the general strike call by 10 central trade unions on November 26.