In view of the all-India trade union bandh on Tuesday, Mumbai’s city’s public transport authorities are taking a cautious approach and will not run any of their air-conditioned buses.
Autorickshawmen and taximen are also guarded and will stop plying if there is any violence or damage to their vehicles as the Shiv Sena is supporting the call.
Railway unions are officially not a part of the strike, but the railway cops have cancelled the leaves of all their constables to increase vigil at suburban stations and avoid any untoward incident.
“BEST will run its services, but we will not run any air-conditioned buses in the morning,” a spokesperson said. “We shall observe the situation and only then take AC buses out of our depots as any damage in AC buses is very expensive and leads to losses. In all bus depots, 20 to 25 buses have been fitted with grills and protective sheets so that they are not damaged. We have also issued a special circular to our staff and drivers saying that no one should participate in the strike call,’’ he added.
“The strike is about the organised sector,” Anthony Quadros, president of the Mumbai Taximen’s Union, told DNA. “We are unorganised and we will not be participating. All taxis will ply normally in Mumbai, but if there is violence or damage to our vehicles, we will be forced to go off the road.”
Shashank Rao of the Mumbai Automen’s union said that they would be morally supporting the strike but will not stop autos plying. “We will lead a morcha at Azad Maidan etc, autos will ply normally,” he said.
Transport unions affiliated to the Shiv Sena are supporting the strike call, but they too have said that they will not physically stop vehicles from plying, but participate in the morcha and that those many drivers would stay away and that there could be fewer vehicles on roads.
Railway Protection Force officials said that they will be increasing manpower and security at all important suburban stations and fortifying them. ‘’We have cancelled the leaves sanctioned to our staff on Tuesday so that there is no shortage of security,’’ a CR official said.
The mega strike on February 28 has been supported by trade unions cutting across party lines, in protest against rising prices, disinvestment of profit-making PSUs and violation of labour laws among other reasons. More than eight lakh bank employees too will be joining them to protest against privatisation.
Alok Deshpande adds:
No forced bandh: Uddhav
Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray on Monday confirmed that the Sena will participate in Tuesday’s strike. "This strike is called by labour unions and there will be no forced bandh activity. We will not carry out any violent agitations on the streets which will harm the common Mumbaikar," assured Thackeray.