The BMRCL employees union had called for an indefinite strike from March 22 over several demands including higher wages.

Bengaluru metro strike called off Ktaka HC directs union to negotiate with BMRCL
news Transport Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 18:30

The indefinite strike planned by the Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) employees’ union from March 22 over several demands, including higher wages and recognition for the union, has been called off following a Karnataka High Court order.

The court ordered the employees’ union to defer its strike by 30 days and to negotiate with BMRCL.

The corporation had told the High Court that it was ready to hold talks with union members to discuss their demands. 

BMRCL officials and union members will now sit together twice a week to work out its differences. 

The union had earlier reached an impasse in its negotiations with the BMRCL over its demands and had planned to go on an indefinite strike from March 22. A crucial meeting between members of the union and BMRCL officials on Monday failed to reach a consensus between the two parties. 

But the directive by the high court appears to have satisfied union workers threatening to go on strike. 

"The demands we have made are an increase in wages, recognition for the union, adoption of Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 and a grievance redressal mechanism," said Suryanarayana Murthy, who is part of the BMRCL Employees Union. 

He added that the BMRCL did not take the union's demands into account. It had earlier issued a statement saying that metro services are declared as essential services under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).“All persons in the employment of the metro railways are deemed to be public servants within the meaning of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code as per Section 90 of Metro Railway Operations and Maintenance Act 2002, and so they are prohibited from taking any action which jeopardises the metro services putting the commuters at difficulties and causing inconvenience to people,” Mahendra Jain, Managing Director of BMRCL, said in a press release on March 9.

The BMRCL employs 1230 employees in operations and maintenance with 257 more workers employed on a contract basis. An additional 607 workers are employed on a contract basis in the project wing. Around 900 of BMRCL's permanent employees are part of the union. 

"The court has not lifted stay on ESMA.It has directed the management to have bilateral talks with the union office bearers and solve the issues within 30 days from today. Until then, the strike is deferred. We will be participating in the meeting, where four members nominated by the honourable high court will represent the union," another union member said.

Clifton Rozario, an advocate pointed out that the BMRCL should review its outlook on all of its workers and not just the union workers going on strike. “It is not just about the union workers who are going on the strike. The BMRCL should use this as an opportunity to review its outlook on its workers, including the contract workers who provide security and clean the metros. The contract workers are higher in number and similarly suffer from bad working conditions," he said.