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Motormen Call Off Stir After Meeting With Maha Govt

Motormen of the suburban rail network --Mumbai's lifeline used by seven million commuters daily-- called off their indefinite strike on Tuesday  bringing relief after they held the city to ransom for nearly two days. With
PTI May 04, 2010 21:08 IST
PTI

Motormen of the suburban rail network --Mumbai's lifeline used by seven million commuters daily-- called off their indefinite strike on Tuesday  bringing relief after they held the city to ransom for nearly two days.

With the threat of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) being invoked looming large, the Motormen union decided to call off their agitation after urgent talks with Home Minister R R Patil.

Normalcy was restored towards evening with suburban trains of Central and Western railways on tracks, a couple of hours after the agitation was withdrawn.

The strike by the suburban train drivers that affected normal life resonated even in Parliament where the opposition targeted Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee for not doing anything to tackle the situation and also disrupted proceedings.Congress members also joined in raising the issue.

Attendance in state government offices in Mumbai was severely affected by the stir which also brought chaos to the congested streets in large parts of the metropolis.

Sensing that the stir was paralysing normal life hitting hard office goers and students, the Centre even moved the High Court and sought its intervention for ending the stir by the motormen demanding wage hike entered the second day today.

Slamming the motormen around the time when they called of the stir, a Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice J N Patel and Justice S C Dharmadhikari said "situation in the city shocks the conscience of the court.

A few people have held the city to ransom and disrupted normal life by adopting means which can not be permitted."

The motormen were called for talks by Patil as Chief Minister Ashok Chavan spoke of invoking provisions of ESMA.

"The Centre has given us a go-ahead for invoking provisions of ESMA, but we are holding discussions with the railway unions and hoping for a positive outcome," Chavan told reporters after reviewing the situation. 20 motormen were also dismissed for failing to report to work.

The motormen withdrew the stir after the state government gave an assurance to them that it would mediate between the strikers and the Railway ministry.
With the motormen pressing ahead with their stir, at least 170 suburban train drivers were taken into custody from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) here on charges of unlawful assembly and obstructing other rail employees from reporting to their duties.

After the strike was called off, Patil said police cases filed against the motormen and disciplinary action initiated against them would be withdrawn.
In Parliament, Government also made an announcement of withdrawal of cases.

The government also said a fast track committee is looking into the motormen's demands for increase in salary and allowances and that it "is expected to submit its report by June 15. PTI