Mumbai, October 18: Travel plans of lakhs of commuters were severely hit across Maharashtra as workers of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) went on an indefinite strike from midnight on Monday. The state transport buses stayed off the roads, causing inconvenience to passengers. The call for indefinite strike was given by the union to demand implementation of 7th pay commission and interim relief of 25 per cent hike in salary. All the major depots, including Mumbai Central, Kurla, Dadar and Borivli, among others, were shut as none of the buses operated. The MSRTC has, however, decided to refund money to those who had already reserved tickets during this period.

According to a report by TOI, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has reported a loss of Rs 22 crore because of loss of revenue during the Diwali festive season as over one lakh employees have gone on strike. MSRTC caters to the transport needs of about 65 lakh passengers who travel by ST buses across the state. Of the 58,000 buses that run daily, only 681 trips were made in the entire day. The employees have gone on strike demanding a revised pay structure in accordance with the 7th Pay Commission. The Commission recommended a 14% hike in salaries and 25% interim bonus.

The Maharashtra State ST Kamagar Sanghatana (MSSKS) which is supported by six other labour unions have given an indefinite strike. The MSRTC termed the strike illegal, claiming that they had already agreed to pay dearness allowance and Diwali bonus amounting to around Rs 20,000 per person. To overcome the disruption caused by the strike, which started from midnight yesterday, the transport department of the Maharashtra government has issued a notification to allow private vehicles, including school buses, to ferry passengers.

Maharashtra Transport minister Diwakar Raote slammed the Maharashtra State Road Transport (MSRTC) employees for going on a strike over their demand for salary hike and said that implementing the Seventh Pay Commission for these employees is not possible for the next 25 years. “MSRTC will not be in a position to implement the 7th Pay Commission for another 25 years. In his meeting with the union members, the CM has clearly said that it is not possible even for the government employees so how can we do it for them,” Raote was quoted by PTI. The State Road Transport Corporation has urged employees on strike to resume work by Wednesday morning, failing which they will face strict action.