Once again Sharad Rao threatened to strike, and then called it off at the eleventh hour, to the relief of lakhs of people who were on tenterhooks after several unions under the leader, comprising BEST, BMC workers and auto drivers, had announced a strike from the stroke of midnight on Tuesday.
The announcement for the cancellation was made after meetings with a slew of government officials. While the cancellation came as welcome news for Mumbaikars whose regular commuting woes are being compounded in the monsoon, it is time the union leaders stopped holding the public to ransom at every drop of a hat.
Public transport is the lifeline of this city, and when this is snapped, Mumbai, quite literally, is crippled. The union leaders know just how vital this is, and play this fact to their advantage.
In this case, Rao has even admitted that the threat of a strike was a mere tactic for the unions to get their work done.
While commuters need transport systems, rickshaws also need takers. Issuing these empty threats just to get one’s work done is sure to backfire one day, as authorities and the public will look for other alternatives, and maybe even find one.
One has often seen services announcing strikes a day or two prior to the date of its commencement. This is followed by a round of midnight meetings and talks between different sections of the government, authorities and the aggrieved parties. After hours of anxiety, it is all settled. But these talks and parleys should be conducted before announcing strikes. One cannot bring the public to its knees every time. Those who are made to bend too low and too often will one day get up and walk.