Hundreds of contractual and outsourced employees of the state-owned Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) and Punjab Roadways (PUNBUS), as well as the truckers’ association protested on Tuesday against the state and central governments over a litany of demands.
On June 28, Punjab Roadways had announced a three-day chakka jam over their long-pending demand for the regularisation of contractual employees. On the other hand, the truckers’ association protested over the inflated diesel prices.
As a part of their protest, the contractual workers’ union of Punjab Roadways closed the bus stand and roadways depots for four hours. The protests were scheduled between 8 am to 12 noon. While the bus services remained affected, private passenger vehicles were plying on the road with passengers complaining about being overcharged. The protestors said their demonstration would continued for three days and they would also gherao the Moti Bagh residence of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
“We have been working for the last 13-14 years yet we are not regularised. We were promised that the contractual workers would be regularised within three years but nothing has been done,” Baljeet Singh Gill, PUNBUS union state president told reporters.
Reportedly, the protest on Tuesday was held across 18 roadways depots and seven PRTC depots in the state. The slew of demands raised by the protestors included the coverage of workers under the Punjab Pension Scheme, loan waiver of Punbus and allotment of Dearness Allowance to drivers and conductors.
In another instance, members of the Truckers Association including truck operators protested against the state and central government over the inflated prices of diesel and petrol. As per the union, the protest was held on Tuesday in five districts of Punjab including Bathinda, Mansa, Barnala, Sangroor, Patiala and Ferozpur.
With the surge in fuel price by 35 paise on June 27, petrol price has touched the mark of Rs 100 per litre in Punjab, making it one of the 11 states and union territories where the price of petrol has risen three digits. Meanwhile, diesel price has also shot up to Rs 91.62 per litre as of June 28. The rise in the prices of petrol and diesel is significant as compared to 2020 when petrol price was at Rs 69.65 per litre and diesel at Rs 61.37 per litre.
The transporters demanded the reduction of the excise duty and VAT on fuel prices. “The expenses have increased while the freight prices have gone down. And now, with the increase in the fuel prices, the transporters are struggling to make ends meet. We want that the freight charges to be increased and the fuel prices be reduced,” said Amandeep Ghuman of Truck Operator Welfare Society, Mansa district.
As per the union, a meeting of truck operators was scheduled be held on Tuesday evening to decide the future course of action. “We are not going to back off anytime soon. A meeting will be held today to decide on how the protest has to be taken further,” Ghuman added.
Punjab has witnessed a series of protests in the last two months by several workers’ associations including sanitation workers, contractual teachers, and doctors against the state government. The protests have mounted pressure on the Congress-led government in state ahead of the Assembly elections scheduled to take place next year.