CHANDIGARH: Around 8,000 contractual employees of the state-owned Punjab Roadways and PRTC on Monday went on an indefinite strike, demanding regularisation of their jobs.
Private buses, however, continued to ply in the state.
More than 2,000 buses of the state-owned Punjab Roadways and Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) stayed off roads, claimed Punjab Roadways, Punbus/PRTC Contract Workers’ Union president Resham Singh Gill.
He said only 200 to 300 buses operated by regular employees plied on the streets.
However, officials said 25 per cent of the total buses of the Punjab Roadways and 35 per cent of the PRTC were plying on the roads.
The indefinite strike call caused inconvenience to many passengers who usually travel on state-owned buses.
“We are facing problems as the state-owned buses are not plying today. I had to go to Tarn Taran,” lamented an elderly woman at the Amritsar bus stand.
She said private buses were refusing to drop her at the location she wants.
Another woman at the Jalandhar bus stand said she would have to take a private bus to reach her destination as government buses were nowhere to be seen.
There is free travel facility for women in government-run buses in Punjab.
The protesting contractual employees held demonstrations at many places and raised slogans against the state government for not accepting their long-pending demands.
They also threatened to lay siege to the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at Siswan in Mohali on Tuesday if their demands were not accepted.
Gill said that in July and August, they were assured that their demand of regularisation would be met.
Despite two cabinet meetings having been held since then, the issues continue to remain unresolved, he added.
The apathetic attitude of the state government towards their demands forced them to go on strike, Gill said.
Besides regularisation of jobs, the protesters are also demanding an increase in the fleet size from around 2,500 buses at present to at least 10,000.
Meanwhile, Harpal Cheema, Aam Aadmi Party MLA and Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, slammed the Congress-led government for not fulfilling its poll promise of regularising contractual employees.
Extending the party’s support to the strike call, Cheema asked the state government to accept their demand of regularisation of their jobs and increase the fleet size of buses in the state.