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Slamming the Maharashtra State Road Transport (MSRTC) employees for going on a strike over their demand for salary hike, state Transport minister Diwakar Raote today said 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 said.
He added that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has offered to resolve the matter through talks and also asked the union to formulate a committee to resolve their issues.
"The CM will personally see what can be done for them once the committee comes to a conclusion," he said.
"The government is not in a position to accept their demands because a lot of money is being spent on farmers. They should not hold people to ransom during Diwali time just to get their demands fulfilled," he said.
Employees of the MSRTC began an indefinite strike from midnight of Monday. Their main demand is implementation of 7th pay commission.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde questioned if Raote wants to resolve the issue or make matters worse by his comments.
"At a time when lakhs of commuters are held ransom, Raote makes comments which raises the question whether he wants an amicable solution or wants to add oil to the fire?" he said.
Munde met Fadnavis earlier in the day and urged him to hold talks with union members and come to a amicable solution at the earliest.
"The MSRTC employees have been pressing for this demand for years, but the government never paid attention to them and today they had no other option but to go on a strike. Had they been heard on time, people would not have had to suffer today," the NCP leader said.
More than 65 lakh passengers travel by ST buses across the state everyday. The MSRTC runs 18,000 buses, some of which go to far-flung areas not connected by rail network. The transport undertaking incurs a loss of Rs 450 crore per year.