PUNJAB ROADWAYS, now being run almost exclusively by contract workers and employees recruited under "outsourcing" tactics, will come to a halt on June 25.
Top union leadership of Punjab Roadways and PUNBUS has declared a "Chakka Jaam" on June 25 and an ultimatum in this context has been served upon Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Surprisingly, while the top union leadership of Punjab Roadways and PUNBUS, held a press conference in Chandigarh on Monday to announce such a drastic step, the news was only carried largely by the vernacular media. Top English language dailies in the region did not carry the news.
"English media is more worried about upper middle class people’s problems and knows very well that those who travel in Punjab Roadways’ buses are not really its customers, neither are they big buyers of FMCG goods. No wonder that you will see ecstatic headlines about increasing the frequency of Chandigarh-Shimla heli-taxi services but a blackout of news about our strike,” said a top union leader.
Roadways workers have now come forward with explosive details of how the public sector undertaking has been reduced to a mere rumour and that the entire burden of the Punjab Roadways is now being carried by employees who work either on contract or those recruited under outsourcing strategy. Such employees receive measly salaries.
As of now, 70 per cent of the employees of the Punjab Roadways are on contract or have been recruited through a system of outsourcing.
The total number of such employees has now reached 5,000, out of which 1,633 employees have been recruited on contract while 3,367 employees are outsourced labourers.
These 5,000 employees are paid just Rs 11,000 per month, one fifth of the salary drawn by a regular employee.
# 70% of Punjab Roadways employees are on contract or outsourced labour
# They are paid Rs 11,000 per month, 1/5th of a regular employee's salary
# Permitted Punjab Roadways fleet strength is 2,407 buses
# But Roadways actually owns only 598 buses
# Punjab has one of the country's poorest public transport system
The condition of the buses of Punjab Roadways can be best described as dilapidated.
Of the permitted fleet of 2,407 buses of Punjab Roadways, the Roadways actually owns only 598 buses while 1,308 buses run under the banner of Punbus.
All of these together account for 1,906 buses, 501 less than the permitted fleet strength of 2,407.
Pushed to the wall, the employees of the Punjab Roadways and Punbus Contract Workers Union, Punjab have now decided to bring the entire bus fleet to a halt on June 25.
But the strike will be preceded by a series of statewide rallies from June 21.
Notices for the strike have already been sent to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal as well as the Transport Minister.
Resham Singh Gill, the president of the Punjab Roadways and Punbus Contract Workers Union and its general secretary Baljit Singh Gill, Raghunath Singh of CITU and Comrade Chandrashekhar, the secretary of the All India Road Transport Federation, said at a press conference that the government has been indulging in financial exploitation of Punjab Roadways and its employees for years now.
They said the transport minister had assured that their demands would be fulfilled within 10 days after the Shahkot byelection but so far nothing has moved.
They demanded that the employees recruited under the outsourcing scheme and on contract be regularised on the basis of their experience.
They also asked that equal work, equal pay principle be implemented in case of Punjab Roadways, as mandated by the Supreme Court judgement.
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