Why MSRTC workers protested outside Sharad Pawar’s residence

The protesting MSRTC staffers have been demanding merger of the corporation with the state government

Sharad Pawar declines involvement in Shiv Sena name and symbol dispute
NCP chief Sharad Pawar I File Photo

The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporations (MSRTC) strike took a violent turn on Friday when a group of protestors gathered outside NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s Mumbai residence. The protestors, who were claiming to be MSRTC employees, threw slippers and sandals at Pawar’s residence and women protestors broke bangles.

The staffers, who have been on strike since November 2021, also gheraoed Supriya Sule, NCP MP and Pawar’s daughter, who tried to calm them. The protestors have been demanding merger of MSRTC with the state government so that they are entitled to salaries and benefits as state government employees.

Delay in salaries

The issue started after salary of over 90,000 staffers were delayed for three to four months after the first lockdown in March 2020. Several staffers allegedly committed suicide. The state government then decided to provide financial assistance to MSRTC.


Meanwhile, MSRTC filed a contempt petition in the Bombay High Court against the ongoing strike. During the hearing the court asked the state government to appoint a three-member committee to look into the demand for a merger and submit its report. The panel submitted the report last month but did not agree to go ahead with the merger demand, citing administrative, legal and financial reasons.

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While the committee was still deliberating, to placate the striking staff, on November 25 state transport minister Anil Parab announced up to 41 per cent pay hike based on seniority and also gave a hike in monthly allowances. He left the issue of merger on the committee’s report. The pay hike though failed to impress the staffers. Adding fuel to fire, the government suspended around 12,000 staffers and issued a dismissal notice to 8,000 others.

On Tuesday, the MSRTC filed a plea to withdraw the contempt petition that it had filed earlier. On Thursday, the Bombay High Court directed the employees to return to work by April 22 without any fear of disciplinary action.

Mixed reaction

The staffers on strike at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan, welcomed the court’s order but did not end the strike. It was then, it seems, those staffers who were upset with the court order decided to protest at Pawar’s house. They have accused that the NCP chief of done nothing for them. “This government did nothing for us. The Chanakya of this government, Sharad Pawar, is also responsible for our sufferings,” The Indiatvnews quoted a worker.

After the violence at Pawar’s residence, condemnations came in from across the political spectrum, including the BJP.

Apart from detaining 107 protestors, including 23 women, the Mumbai Police also detained Advocate Gunaratna Sadavarte, who claims to represent the striking employees of the MSRTC. He was remanded to police custody till April 11 on charges of instigating the crowd against Pawar. The lawyer, however, claimed that he has been “falsely implicated” in the case by Pawar and other politicians for “exposing their misdeeds and corruption,” The Indian Express reported.