| Contractual bus drivers and conductors on strike. Telegraph picture |
Cuttack, Dec. 17: The commuters had a harrowing time in reaching their destinations today, following a strike by the contractual employees of the state-run Orissa State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC).
Demanding a hike in their wages and regularisation besides other benefits enjoyed by the regular staff, the contractual employees including drivers and conductors are on a cease work agitation from Wednesday.
“As only a limited OSRTC buses are plying to other parts of the state from the city, it caused a lot of problems for me. For the past one week I was in the city as one of my relative was admitted in S.C.B. Medical College and Hopsital. Though, I wanted to go to my native village in Balangir, I failed to get alternative transport arrangements,” a passenger said. Another passenger Bishnu Priya Sethi said, “Even if the contractual employees are on strike, the OSRTC officials should have initiated steps so that passengers like us do not suffer.”
Due to the strike, road communication in major routes from Cuttack has been affected. “As per our long outstanding demands, we want the basic pay of Rs 5,200 for drivers and Rs 4,200 for conductors,” Tapan Kumar Samal, a conductor said.
The contractual employees are demanding wages on their weekly offs. “Even though the nature of job is similar with regular drivers, we are not entitled to certain benefits enjoyed by them. We get salary on daily basis which is not sufficient to maintain our family,” said A.K Jena, a contractual driver.
Jena, who was appointed as a contractual driver in 1989, says that though they have been entitled with four weekly offs in a month it is being counted as leave without pay.
He further says that it is not possible to maintain a livelihood with getting a paltry amount of Rs 2,500 for 26 days of work.“It’s unfortunate that the contractual staff have launched an agitation despite notification that the employees would not be entitled to get minimum wages for rest day,” district transport manager Binay BhusanDas said.
According to OSRTC officials, such arbitrary act on part of them, not only caused inconvenience to passengers but also put the state undertaking into heavy financial loss.