State transport workers in Maharashtra began an indefinite strike at midnight on Monday and have refused to call it off till they are paid better salaries, ANI reported.

The strike comes just two days before Diwali and is likely to affect people travelling for the festival. Lakhs of passengers use the 17,000 state buses that operate across Maharashtra every day.

Workers of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation want the recommendation of the Seventh Pay Commission implemented and a 25% pay hike till their contracts are revised, leader of the Maharashtra State Transport Workers Union Sandeep Shinde told the Hindustan Times.

Maharashtra Transport Minister Diwakar Raote requested the workers to consider the Diwali rush and call off the strike. “We all sympathise with state transport employees, but their demand for salaries under the Seventh Pay Commission is not possible,” Raote told ANI. He said the state was ready to talk to the staff and set up a committee to resolve their grievances.

The state government has asked private vehicles, including school buses, to ferry passengers till the strike is called off, The Times of India reported.