Another 542 ST workers were suspended on Wednesday for being part of the strike, taking the total number of suspended staff to 918.
A protest with held at Mankhurd as the strike entered its 14th day
Thackeray said: “ST workers, you are one of us… The state government is trying hard to resolve demands you’ve raised… Following directions of the HC, we have set up a committee to consider the issue and find a solution. I appeal to you with folded hands not to conduct an agitation that holds the common man to ransom. For the last two years, we have been battling the pandemic…”
The strike, however, continued for the 14th day across the state, with MSRTC incurring over Rs 80 crore losses in the past two weeks. On Wednesday, all 250 bus depots were completely shut and bus services across the state had come to a standstill.
BJP leaders joined the protests with ST workers on Wednesday, taking part in protests. Former MP Kirit Somaiya and MLA Gopichand Padalkar and a few MSRTC staff were detained by police outside Mantralaya as they planned to participate in a satyagraha protest.
Leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis flayed MVA ministers for not fulfilling demands of ST staff. Speaking to the media on his arrival at Nagpur airport, the former CM termed the the Thackeray-led government as “insensitive”.
Parab, who is also MSRTC chairman, said: “I appeal to ST workers not to get provoked by political parties. Finally, the damage will be faced by workers as we have already suspended some protesters…. Political parties are capitalising on the strike but workers will have to face loss of pay for not coming to work. Will political parties take responsibility for salary lost… ST workers’ demand to be considered as government staff can’t be considered in a day or two.”
Thackeray added : “I also appeal to political parties provoking poor ST workers for political gain, to not do so. It’s not the time for politics.”
With no ST buses, 10 private buses were deployed at three Thane depots for Pune and Nashik. At Vashi, the police detained 68 ST staff who came from other districts to join a protest in Mumbai.
(inputs by Manoj Badgeri & George Mendonca)