Future of over 10,000 bus marshals hangs by a thread

- October 31, 2023
| By : Muhammad Tahir |

Enraged over non-payment of their wages, scores of bus marshals, who have been on an indefinite sit-in outside the Delhi Secretariat, have also given authorities ultimatum of October 31

Thousands of bus marshals take part in a sit-in demonstration outside Delhi Secretariat

Delhi Secretariat is witnessing fierce demonstrations by bus marshals deployed in cluster and DTC buses over non-payment of wages.

Recently, Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena had approved a proposal of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to terminate the services of all civil defence volunteers with effect from November 1 this year.

“I’m the sole income earner in my family. We have not received our salary for the past four months. My savings have almost exhausted and we are compelled to stage a sit-in now,” said Bhavna, who is part of the protest along with other marshals.

A protester waves the Indian national flag at the sit-in staged by bus marshals

Several of them were detained by the police two days ago.

“I joined as a marshal in 2021. When they needed us to do the dirty job during Covid pandemic, they used us, now they are sacking us without a reason,” said Bhavna, who lives on rent with her father in the Mandawali area.

“We have only two demands – pay us our due salary and let us continue with our jobs. Until and unless we get that, we will stay here and even bring our families,” said another marshal.

Many protesters are considering a chakka jam if their demands are not met.

“We will wait till October 31. When you are starving with no money, you will look for ways to mount pressure on authorities,” said a marshal.

Bus marshals have been on an indefinite strike over non-payment of dues

“I could not spend even five rupees to buy anything for the ongoing festival season — from Rakshabandhan to Diwali. Plus, our rent is due,” complained a few women, who live on rent in the Patel Nagar area.

“We had a dream for our children’s education but now it seems impossible as we are unable to pay their fees. Extra-curricular activities such as computer classes have been stopped due to financial problems. We need to adjust our children’s expenses,” said another.

“Our daily household expenses are also affected due to delayed salaries. This job supported us. We don’t need it to be permanent but they should not terminate our job,” they said.

The marshals alleged that no government representative has met or even asked them about their problems.

However, recently Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said that his government will appoint the Civil Defence Volunteers (Bus Marshals) as Home Guards. The chief minister shared a note on ‘X’ on the same.

At night, a marshal of KND Depot was ensuring the attendance of her depot’s staff at the protest.

“We demonstrated on October 10 regarding the salary. They did not resolve the issue but sent the message of termination. We also tried to meet L-G, but we were not allowed,” she said.

“They have terminated over 10,000 people and snatched the employment of youths. They are old, so where they will go, and who will give jobs to them?”

Nisha Rani joined four months ago and has not received even a single penny.

“We joined after the full process, which involved interview among other things. But I didn’t get a single rupee in salary,” she said.

“Some women even fainted and were admitted to hospital. I want to ask the PM: Are we not his children?”

“We think that the government will give us some gift but instead of it, they snatched our jobs. We are in a limbo,” asked a marshal.