Railway motormen call off strike in Mumbai

The railway motormen strike in Mumbai has been called off after the negotiations with the govt.

Updated: May 04, 2010, 21:38 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Mumbai: In a respite to the commuters of Mumbai, the railway motormen strike has been called off on Tuesday after the negotiations with the government.

The decision to call off the strike came after Mahrashtra Home Minister RR Patil negotiated with the motormen over their demands and reched a settlement.

Further details of the negotiations are awaited.

Earlier in the day, Maharashtra government had invoked the stringent Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to deal with Mumbai motormen’s indefinite hunger strike, which entered its second day today and left the metropolis paralysed.
The motormen, demanding hike in pay scales and allowances, continued with their agitation even as 20 of them were dismissed by the Railways for refusing to report to work.

"Ten motormen of Central and Western Railway each have been dismissed as they refused to work," Railway officials said.

Also, at least 170 striking motormen were taken into custody at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) on charges of unlawful assembly and obstructing rail employees from reporting to their duties.

There were also reports of striking motormen being forcefully removed from other Railway premises in Mumbai.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan approved the invoking of ESMA on the recommendation of the state Chief Secretary, who acted on the suggestion of the Railway authorities. The Central government had earlier allowed the Maharashtra government to invoke the Act.

The Central government as well as the Railways today also moved the Bombay High Court against the motormen`s strike.

Further, it has advised commuters in the Maharashtra capital to undertake only necessary journeys.

A bulk SMS with a helpline no 10721 to assist stranded commuters stated: "People may undertake (train) journey only if it`s very important."

The developments came as suburban train services in the country’s financial capital continued to be disrupted today on the second day of the motormen`s strike.

Railway authorities said only 20 percent suburban trains were operating as a result of the hunger strike by motormen.
The Railways are also making alternative arrangements to grapple with the agitation, considered the worst in Mumbai since 1974.

The BEST and MSRTC chipped in to help the stranded commuters by deploying additional services in the city and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Western and Eastern Express Highway continued to be jammed with commuters opting for road transport to reach their destinations.

State Home Minister RR Patil said the government will take up the issue with the Centre, seeking its intervention to provide relief to Mumbai commuters.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation arising out of the motormen`s strike. Police, railway and transport officials will attend the meeting, official sources said.

Chavan had yesterday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and requested his intervention to end the strike, sources added.

The Chief Minister also spoke to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and requested her to take stringent action against the striking motormen, they stated further.

"The salary and allowance hike demand by motormen is unlawful because they are getting salary as per the Sixth Pay Commission," Railway officials said.

Police has been deployed at railway stations as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, the motormen’s strike rocked Parliament in New Delhi also, with BJP and Shiv Sena MPs demanding the suspension of Question Hour to take up the issue. Amid chaotic scenes, the Lok Sabha was adjourned twice by Speaker Meira Kumar.

With PTI Inputs