Himachal roadways employees end strike

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Shimla, June 15 (IANS) Commuters heaved a sigh of relief as striking employees of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) ended their strike on Wednesday, enabling the state-run entity’s 2,500 buses resume normal operations.

The employees said they will not protest in support of their demands till June 20, the date by which the Himachal High Court has sought the state government’s reply on the matter.

“Buses resumed service on all intra- and inter-state routes this morning (Wednesday),” a government spokesperson told IANS.

Transport Minister G.S. Bali said the buses were plying on all routes, warning of action against employees who instigated their colleagues to go on strike.

“We accepted most of their demands before they went on strike which was uncalled for and unjustified,” he told reporters in Shimla.

“Respecting the high court order, we have decided to postpone the strike till June 20. Moreover, we will now plead before the court for the acceptance of our genuine demands,” HRTC employees joint coordination committee president Pawan Guleria said.

Acting tough against the protesting employees, the high court on Wednesday asked the authorities to take action against “any person or persons found disassociating other employees from joining their duties or otherwise disrupting the smooth functioning of the HRTC or creating any hindrance.”

It said: “Necessary follow-up action in accordance with law shall be taken and if need be the erring employees can also be arrested.”

Over 10,000 roadways employees had earlier continued their two-day strike from Monday night in defiance of the high court order.

On Monday, the high court declared the strike illegal and issued a directive for its immediate withdrawal, asking the state to look into the employees’ demands.

On Tuesday, the court said any decision to join and continue the strike will be treated as contempt of court.

“The striking employees’ leaders were apprised of the high court orders on Tuesday, especially the directive that they must call off their strike by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, but they refused to call off the strike,” HRTC Managing Director Ashok Tewari earlier said in a statement.

The striking employees are demanding regularisation of the contract staff and pension benefits.

–IANS

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