|A padlock hangs heavy on the gates of the bus depot in Baridih on Sunday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
City bus employees in Jamshedpur united under the banner of City Bus Karamchari Sangh and went on an indefinite strike from Sunday over pending salary
Drivers, conductors and support staff, who form the backbone of the JNNURM-sponsored public transport system, claim they have not been paid since April.
The plagued bus service has so far seen more than 60 strikes in Jamshedpur since it was launched in the steel city in September 2010.
Patron of City Bus Karamchari Sangh Ajit Singh claimed that the Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation, which runs the service, had not paid the April and May salaries. While drivers get around Rs 3,200 a month under the city bus service, conductors receive Rs 3,700. However, the amount varies with the number of working days.
“We were forced to go on an indefinite strike after all our pleas to clear the outstanding salary dues fell on deaf ears. We have decided not to work until the issue is resolved. The bus depot at Baridih has been locked. All buses would remain stranded over there,” said Singh.
The senior functionary of the Sangh added that they were contemplating to move Jharkhand High Court as the employees still do not anything about their Provident Fund entitlements.
“We are supposed to get PF benefits since the bus service was launched in September 2010. But, despite our repeated requests, JTDC has been silent on the issue,” said Singh.
Local JTDC manager S. K. Jha, however, said funds to clear the dues had already arrived and a section of drivers and conductors had been paid the April salary on Saturday.
“We have already started disbursing the April salary. The drivers and conductors would soon get the salary of May,” he said.
Regarding the PF matter, Jha said the employees were unnecessarily trying to make an issue out of it. “The city bus staff are getting the benefits as per PF rules,” he said.
The last strike by city bus employees had taken place in the first week of February and had lasted for two days.
Currently, only 10 city buses ply on the three notified routes and ferry around 8,000 passengers daily. The remaining 40 of the allotted fleet of 50 are gathering rust at the Baridih depot for want of repair and maintenance.
The state urban development department would take over the bus service from JTDC in Jamshedpur, Ranchi and Dhanbad after June 30.