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DTC employees defy ESMA, go on strike


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Harried bus commuters faced hardships in reaching their destination on Monday as contractual and permanent employees of the Delhi Transport Corporation went on strike despite imposition of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) by the government.
The DTC Contractual Employees Union claimed 60 per cent of buses did not ply due to their strike. But the DTC has put the number substantially lower.
A senior DTC officer said out of nearly 3,600 buses, only about 300 did not leave the depots, and services were largely unaffected.
The commuters, however, complained of overcrowded buses and delays. Commuters were seen at many bus stands in large numbers due to decreased frequency of buses.
"I am waiting for a bus to Manglapuri for the past one hour. A bus came, but it was over crowded and I could not board it," said 25-year-old Rajesh, a salesman by profession, at an ITO bus stop.
The contractual workers demanding restoration of their wages reduced after a court order, reinstatement of workers terminated due to strike, same pay for same work, and strengthening fleet of DTC buses, are on strike since October 22.
The DTC Workers Unity Centre has in the meantime served a notice for strike on Monday.
At a Lajpatnagar bus stop, 45-year-old housewife Asha said in the afternoon she had been waiting for a bus for the past 45 minutes. "But they are coming at very less frequency. And those that are coming are over-crowded. The autowallahs are over charging." She said she had to visit to a hospital to see a relative.
The problem was more pronounced at peak evening and morning hours when office-goers came out to reach their destination.
"Only 40 per cent buses left the depots. Due to the strike, marshals and drivers were deployed as conductors in the buses. Some such conductors were challaned by traffic police for not having proper badge and licence," claimed Manoj Sharma, the president of DTC contractual Employees Union.
He said the strike will continue and three contractual employees including a physically disabled female conductor will sit on hunger strike at DTC headquarters from Tuesday.
The employees affiliated to DTC Workers Unity Centre supported by other unions were also on strike.
The DTC on Sunday said that Delhi government has restored the minimum wage rates prevailing before August 4, 2018 of contractual employees and withdrew the orders for reducing the wage.
The deduction in wages made for the intervening period from August 4 till October 31 will be credited to the accounts of the personnel by the end of this month, it said.
The announcement, however, failed to impress the employees who asserted they will continue the agitation.
Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal has imposed Essential Service Maintenance Act, 1974 on DTC for six months banning all strikes by its employees.

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First Published: Oct 29 2018 | 8:50 PM IST

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