The public transport services would be affected in Haryana on Wednesday as Roadways employees will go on a day-long strike to protest the government's move to allow private buses to ply within and from the state.
The Haryana government had on August 30 invoked the Haryana Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) for six months barring the employees to go on the proposed strike.
The government had also invoked provisions under the ESMA to end the ongoing strike by multi-purpose health workers in the state, with Health Minister Anil Vij on Tuesday asking employees to return to work or face strict action, including termination of services.
According to the Roadways union leaders, the government buses have started to go off roads in some depots across the state Tuesday evening.
At several depots, including Gurgaon, Karnal and Sirsa, the roadways workers held protest demonstrations and raised slogans against the government.
In view of the employees' strike, the authorities had also imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure at some places prohibiting assembly of more than four people.
"Till the very end, we were open for talks with the state government to reach to a solution so that public is not put to inconvenience due to the strike. However, as the government remained defiant and even invoked the ESMA, we have no choice but to proceed on strike on Wednesday as per our earlier announcement," Haryana Roadways Employees Union president Dalbir Kirmara told PTI on Tuesday.
He said the government was adamant on its stand to introduce 700 private buses on various routes, being opposed by the union.
"We have urged the government to buy its own buses and assured them of better facilities to the commuters. However, they refused to listen to us and stuck to their stand," Mr Kirmara said.
Speaking to reporters in Jind on Tuesday, Transport Minister Krishan Lal Panwar termed as "unjustified" the move of the Roadways employees to go on strike.
He said necessary action under the provisions of the ESMA will be taken if the employees defy it.
Opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) slammed the government's move to invoke the ESMA, saying such a measure was not needed in the present situation.
"Why is the government bent upon gradually privatising the Haryana Roadways, which was once a profitable venture. We are a welfare state and the government should not always be looking for profits. They should take back the ESMA, sit and talk with the employees and resolve the issue. The public should not be put to inconvenience because of the government's failure," party state president Ashok Arora said.
INLD's Hisar MP Dushyant Chautala alleged that the BJP government in Haryana wanted to "give permits to some private companies of Gujarat, which is why it is bent upon privatising the state roadways".
On August 30, the Haryana government had prohibited strike by the employees of the State Transport Department or Haryana Roadways for a period of six months under the Haryana Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1974.
During the last one year, the employees have gone on strike on a few occasions in support of their various demands.
The state government also invoked provisions under the ESMA to end the ongoing strike by multi-purpose health workers in the state.
They are demanding the status of technical cadre and resolution of pay anomalies between men and women workers.