MSRTC strike on, staff ignore State Govt.’s offer to hike pay

BJP leaders Padalkar and Khot withdraw from agitation

A day after the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government announced a pay hike in a bid to end the indefinite strike by the staffers of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), the latter continued to remained firm on their chief demand of seeking to be treated as government employees while demanding the merger of the cash-strapped MSRTC with the State government.

Many MSRTC workers refused to budge from Mumbai’s Azad Maidan despite Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Gopichand Padalkar and Sadabhau Khot, who have been leading the Mumbai agitation, stating they were ending the strike for the time being.

However, several MSRTC staffers, expressing their anguish at the duo’s withdrawal dubbed Mr. Khot and Mr. Padalkar’s decision as a ‘betrayal’ of the workers’ interests while accusing them of having ‘sold out’ to the State government.

However, both BJP leaders, who were responsible for keeping the issue on the boil in Mumbai, said they had not betrayed anyone and that there would always stand by the workers through thick and thin.

“We are temporarily withdrawing our agitation. Whether the workers wish to withdraw it or not depends on the collective decision of all MSRTC staffers across the State…It is their right and we are with them. While our demand, too, has always been merger of the MSRTC, the State government has taken two steps forward and we were of the opinion that the workers, too, ought to consolidate their victory until the issue of the merger was resolved,” Mr. Padalkar said.

Govt. warns of action

Meanwhile, State Transport Minister Anil Parab said that the MSRTC would give time till Friday morning for all agitators to resume duties, else those staffers who continued to strike would face stern action.

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