Mumbai, (The Hindu): Taking a tough stance against Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) employees objecting to the proposed wage hike, State Transport Minister Diwakar Raote on Friday said they’re free to quit and rejoin on contract basis.
A wage revision was announced after two years for employees on the utility’s 70th anniversary, after the last agreement expired in 2016. The proposed hike will cost 4,849 crore for the next four years, and will add 176 crore to annual losses, Mr. Raote said. Permanent employees will get increments between 20% and 32%.
Mr. Raote said workers falling in lower pay grades will get hikes between 16% and 48%, reducing disparity in salaries across the organisation. “This is what we are offering. Those not satisfied with the hike can resign. We will take them on fixed term contracts.” He added that drivers will be offered 20,000 and conductors 19,000 per month with annual wage hikes of 200, for five years.
Sandeep Shinde, president, Maharashtra ST Kamgar Sanghatana, said he hasn’t received written communication about the proposed hike. “For the first time, such a one-sided announcement has been made, and those who don’t accept this proposal have been asked to resign and accept contractual employment under the garb of a golden opportunity. This is nothing but rubbing salt into the wounds of workers, who are already suffering.” He said they will protest if workers are forced to accept this proposal.
Around one lakh ST workers went on an indefinite strike last Diwali, demanding salaries in line with Seventh Pay Commission recommendations. The strike was declared illegal by the Bombay High Court after four days, starting October 16.
Mr. Raote said rising fuel prices have left MSRTC with no option but to increase fares. “A 30% fare hike has been proposed. We’ll examine the proposal and take a call. Under the present circumstances I don’t know how we can avoid a fare hike.” He said he has sought a waiver on toll across highways for ST buses to reduce the financial burden.
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