The indefinite strike by employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) continued the third day on Monday with both the KCR government and employee unions refusing to budge from their respective stands.
The government refused to hold a talk or even take back 48,000 striking employees, issuing orders to recruit new employees and hire more private buses while Joint Action Committee (JAC) leading the strike ruled out calling off the protest till their demands are accepted.
JAC, which has made 26 demands including the merger of the TSRTC with the government, dared Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao to issue sack orders.
JAC, comprising various employee unions, and KCR both accused each other of being arrogant. While deciding to intensify the strike, the employees said they would challenge their sacking in the court.
However, at a review meeting with officials on Monday, the Chief Minister said the government has not dismissed the employees but they dismissed themselves by not joining the duty before the expiry of the deadline.
KCR reiterated that for the government and the TSRTC, there are only 1,200 employees.
The Chief Minister also made it clear that the government has no interest in totally privatising the RTC and that it is taking all measures to strengthen the organisation.
KCR, however, directed officials to divide the existing TSRTC fleet of 10,400 buses into three categories. Fifty per cent of buses (5,200) belong to the TSRTC and they will remain under it. He said 30 per cent of the buses (3,100) buses taken on hire should be run under the TSRTC supervision and administration. Another 20 per cent of the buses (2,100) belong totally to private operators and they will be allowed to ply as the state carriages. TSRTC is currently running 21 per cent hired buses.
KCR said the measures had to be taken due to TSRTC unions’ over-action. “They have cut the branch of a tree on which they were sitting,” he said.
He asked the Director General of Police to form special teams to prevent TSRTC employees who left the organisation from creating disturbances at the bus depots or bus stations. “The DGP would take appropriate action against anyone except the 1,200,” the CM said.
He said the unions have lost their identity and existence. He made it clear that in future there will not be any unionism in the RTC.
KCR exuded confidence that RTC will not only overcome the losses but will make profits and declare bonus to the newly-joined employees.
Nearly 50,000 employees are on strike since Friday midnight to press for their list of 26 demands including the merger of the TSRTC with the government.
For a third consecutive day, a majority of 10,500 buses of TSRTC remained off the roads, causing severe inconvenience to commuters during festival season.
TSRTC bus services carry more than a crore commuters every day.
TSRTC authorities claimed that they have made all arrangements to ensure that people do not face hardships in reaching their destinations on the occasion of Dasara festival.
They said on Monday, 3,105 RTC buses and 2,013 hired buses were operated. They also claimed that more than 6,000 private vehicles, school and college buses and taxi cabs were operated.