BMTC introduces 12-hour shift to cut operational cost
With old eight-hour shifts cancelled, bus crew get 3 to 4-hour breaks but no overtime pay
The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), which is losing crores of rupees every day because of poor riderhip, has cancelled traditional eight-hour shifts for conductors and drivers as a cost-cutting measure. Instead, it has asked the bus crew to follow a 12-hour shift with one break for as long as three to four hours. Drivers and conductors are not happy with the new rules as it means they will have to forgo overtime pay.
However, BMTC officials have justified the decision on the grounds that services have reduced drastically. Prior to the lockdown, over 35 lakh people used to travel in buses every day, but this has reduced to around 15 lakh.
“Schools and colleges have remained closed and companies are allowing employees to work from home. This has resulted in lower demand for our buses during morning hours. Earlier, our conductors and drivers worked in two shifts, such as 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Now, we have introduced a general shift of 12 hours from 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. depending on the routes,” said a BMTC official.
Arguing that the longer shift will have a negative impact on their efficiency, drivers and conductors have asked the management to reconsider its decision. “Earlier, anything beyond eight hours would be considered as overtime, and we would get paid extra. But now they have extended the general shift to 12 hours without any overtime,” an employee said.
Another BMTC driver said the three-hour break is counterproductive. “Spending three to four without doing anything will not help. I am hoping that once everything gets normalised, the management will bring the old shift back,” he said.
Refuting claims that long shifts are against the rules, a senior BMTC official said the new system was introduced as per the Motor Transport Workers Act.