As the strike by Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) employees continues for over six months, the Bombay High Court (HC) today, April 6, directed the striking workers to resume duty by April 15.
Additionally, the bench also asked the corporation to take back its decision initiating disciplinary action against the errant workers.
These statements came a day after the transport body told the HC that it is willing to withdraw contempt petition against striking employees, as despite action being taken against them, their protest continues.
Chief Justice Datta said that nothing survives in the petition. “The employees should now resume duty. We request the MSRTC to grant time till April 15 to the employees to resume work and if any action has been initiated against any worker then the MSRTC shall review the same and take the employee back on duty,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik noted that the Maharashtra government has accepted the report submitted by a three-member committee by which the demands for the merger of MSRTC with the state government and for the corporation workers to be treated as state government employees have not been accepted.
The government would, however, provide financial assistance to MSRTC for four years.
“We understand your (employees) concerns and anxiety. But right now resume duty. Don’t lose your livelihood in this way. Also, let the public not suffer (with the ongoing strike), A policy decision has been taken by the government. If MSRTC employees are aggrieved with this then they can challenge the same as per law,” the bench added.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by MSRTC seeking the initiation of contempt action against the striking workers for not resuming duty despite orders of the high court.
Earlier, on March 22, the HC had advised the leaders of MSRTC workers to resume duties till the government decides on the report submitted by the committee set up to look into their demands.
MSRTC counsel said that they would inform the high court on Thursday, April 7, if MSRTC was willing to take back the cases lodged against the errant workers.
For those unversed, thousands of employees of MSRTC have been on strike since last November demanding that they be treated on par with state government employees and that the cash-strapped transport corporation be merged with the government.