Mumbai: Motormen call off day long strike; locals affected

The striking motormen had demanded appointment of assistant motormen so that they do not have to work overtime.

Zeenews Bureau

Mumbai: After a day-long strike, nearly 200 motormen (drivers) of Mumbai suburban trains called off their agitation here Friday evening following negotiations with the management.

"The agitation has been called off and local services are expected to be normal in the next half-an-hour," a Western Railway spokesperson told a news agency here.

The striking motormen had demanded appointment of assistant motormen so that they do not have to work overtime. They also demanded better security and a regular weekly off apart from a pay structure at par with the Sixth Pay Commission.

"Due to the sudden agitation by a section of motormen on some internal issues/demands, Western Railway (WR) local services were affected from about 3:30 p.m. After conducting regular negotiations with them, the strike was called off and the services were normalised by 7:30 pm," a Western Railway official said.

Earlier, 200 motormen halted work in the pretext of becoming sick and threatened to halt work in the days to come if their demands are not met.

The motormen strike was likely to cause great inconvenience to the thousands of local commuters, who rely on local train services, especially during peak hours, in their day to day life. If the strike had continued, Mumbai’s Central line traffic would have came to a grinding halt.

The Western Line is the busiest of the three local lines in the metropolis and carries on an average over 3.4 million commuters on its 1,250 services on both directions every day.

During the strike, the main suburban railway station of Churchgate in south Mumbai saw unprecedented crowds as people started gathering owing to lack of train services - which usually run one every five minutes.

Most main roads also saw huge traffic, with buses packed to the rafters as commuters resorted to other means to reach home.

The strike started only a couple of hours before the peak travelling time that starts around 6 p.m. as commuters start for home after work hours.

Most local railway stations, however, were alerting commuters with announcements on the public address system that the trains were either running late or had been cancelled.

When asked about the demands of the motormen that triggered the flash strike, the spokesperson said they were internal issues.

Railway sources, however, said that the motormen have for long been demanding provision of co-motormen to help them in operations besides addressing several safety issues.

On August 19 last year, the same motormen brought the city to a standstill after they went on a flash strike demanding that the railway authorities reinstate a colleague who was to be suspended from his duties.

In 2010, they had gone on strike four times in January, February, May and October. The May 3 strike was carried out by both the Central and Western lines motormen demanding pay hike.

However, the Motormen association has apologised to the common public for being forced to halt work since the government and rail officials were not listening to them.