Coronavirus outbreak: Thousands of school bus staff head home

Updated: Apr 11, 2020, 08:44 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

With the entire school bus sector at a standstill, bus employees have opted to return to native places till situation normalises; bus owners worried

School bus business owners have been unable to pay their staff in full owing to no business. File pic
School bus business owners have been unable to pay their staff in full owing to no business. File pic

More than 9,000 drivers, 4,000 cleaners and helpers, 7,000 women attendants and 1,000 bus supervisors who work on school buses are facing a tough time. With the entire country under lockdown and no work available, all of them have already faced 50 per cent salary cut and to make the matter worse, none of them will get their salary from next month.

With uncertainty looming on their work and a majority of them being migrants, the school bus employees have opted to return back to their villages till the situation normalises. But, with them choosing to go back to their villages, the School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) fears that it would be difficult to put the system back together when schools reopen.

Hence the SBOA has written to state government voicing their concerns and hoping to find a solution.

Given the current threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the city may reopen on their scheduled dates - but with online arrangements ensuring there is no break in the academic year. However, this has majorly affected the school bus sector. Even though the government has suggested that employers should continue paying full salaries to their staff during this tough time, the school bus business owners have not been able to do so. With schools shut and buses at halt across the city, the entire school bus business has come to a standstill.

Anil Garg, SBOA President
Anil Garg, SBOA President 

Anil Garg, President of the SBOA said, "As per the general practice, till the month of April parents pay fees for the school-bus services depending on their preference with which we pay salaries. Later in the month of May, they head to their native places as it is vacation time for schools. From June again a new payment cycle begins. But this time, there is no fee-payment since March as there is no regular schooling. Moreover, since most of them are migrants; most of them are trying to head back to their native places and there are very grim chances of them returning without having a proper job in hand.

This is going to lead to a major shortage of manpower when schools reopen as we will require buses to run in their full capacity."

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