Dharamshala: State-run buses will go off the roads Monday night for 24 hours following a strike call by Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) employees union, giving a tough time to communters, including tourists who have thronged the state.
Blaming the government for the "mess" in HRTC, Shankar Singh, president of the Joint Coordination Committee of employees, alleged that privatisation of HRTC, allotting profit making routes to private operators and making it obligatory for the HRTC to operate on loss making routes had pushed the HRTC into perpetual red.
Singh said, "The government has failed to check the plying of private buses on those routes for which no route permits were given to them."
The JAC has been demanding filling of around 3,000 vacant posts in the HRTC, including 1,700 posts of drivers and conductors for long.
He said the HRTC management had notified the pension scheme to its employees in June 1995, but failed to raise funds for it, and was not disbursing pension to pensioners and other monetary benefits due to working employees in the corporation.
He demanded that the HRTC be reconverted into Himachal Roadways on the pattern of Punjab.
Retirement benefits of the HRTC employees like gratuity, leave encashment, provident fund and arrears of revised pay scales were not being paid, he alleged, adding that the retired employees were suffering.
Sources say that the union leaders have rejected a call for talks from the state government and are determined to go ahead with the strike.
In Himachal Pradesh, more than 90 per cent of commuters are dependent on road transport in absence of rail network.
The booking widows of HRTC have already stopped advance booking for the effected period. HRTC will be supported by Punjab and Haryana roadways buses as well.
They will not ply their buses in Himachal for a couple of hours, they said.