Drivers and staff of Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) yesterday formed a human chain in front of Jatiya Press Club in Dhaka to press home their 10-point demand, including clearing their arrears and paying salaries from public exchequer.
Around 200 staff members and drivers of 18 depots from across the country participated in the programme from 10:30am to 12pm, and urged the authorities to meet their demands within April 22.
Otherwise, they will go for hunger strike, Abul Kalam Azad, spokesperson of the movement, announced. He demanded the prime minister's intervention to resolve this issue.
Employees of Rangpur depot did not get their arrears for 13 months, while arrears of the staff of other depots remain pending from three months to a year, they said. Only the Kalyanpur depot has no dues.
Some 3,500 BRTC employees, including drivers, receive salaries and other benefits similar to government employees'. But under the current system, the salaries and benefits of a depot employee has to be paid from the earnings of that particular depot.
The lion's share of the depots' earnings comes from leasing out buses to private entities and organisations, including educational institutions. The depots provide drivers, fuel, and look after vehicle maintenance.
Drivers of Joar Shahara depot went on a strike in January demanding arrears. They called off their strike after the authority assured them of paying all arrears of nine months by August.
But yesterday, drivers of the depot said they received salaries for only two months since the movement.
They alleged that the government, on several occasions, bought new buses but BRTC plunged into losses due to corruption of a group of BRTC officials. They demanded PM's intervention to save the establishment founded by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Their other demands include disbursement of pension benefits of retired staff within three months of retirement; salary of all depots along with the staff of BRTC head office, and no administrative action against the protesters.