Miffed after the depot manager deducted wages from their last month’s salary, over 60 State Transport (ST) drivers and conductors held a flash protest at Nehru Nagar bus depot in Kurla yesterday. The salary cut was enforced following repeated instances of drivers taking more than the permissible time to cover distances between destinations.
Affected drivers, however, said that the pay cut was unjust and unwarranted because the governing body’s time calculation method was ascertained decades ago when traffic density was low. Drivers claim that with the traffic volume increasing, the roads are congested and the potholed roads are only adding to the delays. Moreover, they say, the bus stops have been increased to accommodate passengers, which has in turn increased the travel time.
Amounts ranging from
Rs 1,500 to 3,500 were deducted from the salary of the drivers and conductors in the previous month. The reason for the pay cut given was that they failed to complete the assigned number of trips between Dadar to Panvel and Panvel to Belapur.
Authorities claim the ST buses service are consistently running beyond schedule for the past couple of months and delay is because of the lax drivers. Thus, holding them accountable, the salary was cut. According to the system, each driver attached to the depot has to complete two trips from Dadar to Panvel and one from Dadar to Belapur, and failure to do so resulted in the action.
Kailesh Thorat, manager at Nehru Nagar depot, Kurla, said, “We have deducted the salary of those employees who are always late and skip their duties. These delays cause inconvenience to the commuters. Prior to taking a decision to cut their salary, these employees were monitored over a period of time and the ones who were late on a regular basis, action was taken by cutting their salary.” Elaborating on the need for the action, he said, “If there are two drivers who leave for the destination at the same time, but one completes it while the other fails to do so, then what is one supposed to deduce?”
Drivers have described the step taken by the authorities as ridiculous. They claimed that according to the rules implemented, which were determined decades back, the time given for a driver to cover Dadar-Panvel is one-hour-and-ten-minutes, but that is not possible today. According to them, it takes at least two hours to cover the distance, as the condition of the roads is very bad and there is heavy traffic on this stretch.
An agitated driver said, “The roads are in such bad shape that it is not possible to drive fast. Also there is heavy traffic on the roads. Times have changed. The period during which these rules were made was different. Also the number of halts has increased. The delays are bound to happen.”
Another driver from the depot, SS Kamble said, “My signing time is 12:30 pm and I expected to leave by 1pm. However, it’s almost 2 pm, and the bus hasn’t arrived yet. How am I supposed to cover the distance on time?”