New Delhi, A day before an indefinite strike proposed by a section of the Delhi Metro employees that would have led to mayhem for lakhs of commuters, the Delhi High Court on Friday ordered the staff not to do so or “till further orders”.
The court order on the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation plea will be a relief for daily commuters who use the public service to commute within Delhi and neighbouring areas in the National Capital Region.
“Considering the fact that the petitioner (DMRC) is running a public utility service that caters to 25 lakh citizens of Delhi on a daily basis, who come largely from middle income group… I am inclined to grant ad-interim relief as sought in the application.
“Accordingly, the respondents (General Secretary of Metro Staff Council and others) are restrained from going on strike on June 30 or till further orders in the matter,” read the court order.
Hours before the court order, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the protesting staff to not go on strike and even warned of invoking the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), if required, to stop the strike.
“Whereas all genuine demands of Metro employees should be met, the strike will cause inconvenience to lakhs of people. The strike should not take place. Whereas government will impose ESMA as a last resort, I urge the employees to not resort to strike,” Kejriwal said in a tweet.
The DMRC is engaged in a dispute with its non-executive employees over pay scales and arrears. The 9,000 such employees had warned of a strike from Saturday if their demands were not met.
This workforce consists of station controllers, drivers, technicians, and other maintenance staff and facilitates day-to-day operations of the Metro.
These employees held a symbolic protest from June 19 onwards by holding sit-ins at platforms, wearing black armbands and boycotting lunch and rest hours. They threatened to go on a total strike from June 30.
The bone of contention, the employees said, is a 2007 DMRC rule through which the corporation had come up with two pay scales for executive and non-executive staff, entitling the former to pay grades/scales given to ‘Schedule A’ public sector units and a lower and different grade for the latter.
As per a compromise struck between the employees and the DMRC on July 23 last year, the corporation was to carry out some modifications in the pay grade and grant the protesting employees their arrears from July 1, 2015. However, the deal fell through subsequently.