The Telangana RTC strike which began on October 5 by its employees has entered its 8th day today.
The Joint Action Committee (JAC), spearheading the strike by over 48,000 employees, made it clear that they will not resume their duties until the government accepts their major demands. JAC leader Ashwathama Reddy announced after a meeting with leaders of various political parties and mass organisations that the strike would continue. He asked the employees not to get scared by the government’s threats.
Confirming that no employee has received a dismissal order yet, Reddy said, “If we are served the orders, we will challenge the same in the court of law.”
The demands put forth by the unions, which are functioning under a joint action committee (JAC), include increasing staff salaries, maternity leave for women employees, exemption of various taxes, women bus conductors not to work beyond 9 pm, and the merger of the TSRTC with the state government as it is an autonomous organization, whose employees are permanent.
Though there have been reports that the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) is suffering a loss of Rs 11-12 crore per day owing to the indefinite strike by its employees, the Transport Minister P Ajay has claimed that the strike is not having much impact on bus services as the TSRTC continued operating bus services in Hyderabad and other parts of the state with the help of temporary drivers and other staff.
As uncertainty looms over the RTC employees, they are under constant pressure from their respective families to end the strike due to the impounding financial burden on them due to the indefinite strike.
Earlier on Sunday, in a surprising move, the Telangana government had dismissed over 48,000 striking employees of the Telangana State Road Transportation Corporation (TSRTC).
On the third day of the strike, the state government acted on its prior warning that employees should join work by 6 pm on Saturday or lose their jobs. The state government had set the deadline in view of the ongoing festive season. With the employees not relenting and continuing with their strike, Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) took the decision of dismissing all the employees who kept away from work.
Clearing that TSRTC will not be merged with the government, in a statement on Sunday evening, KCR condemned the strike, calling it “illegal, irresponsible and based on wrong thinking.”
The RTC employees have called the government’s decision ‘undemocratic’. The opposition parties too, have criticised the move. The BJP has said that It’s the government’s incompetence & escapist attitude, which led to the RTC employees strike. Congress has stated that the employees were only demanding what was promised to them.
In the immediate aftermath, the government has ordered that 2500 buses be taken on lease and 4114 buses to be given permission to operate as public transport. Authorities have been directed to restore normalcy within 15 days. CM Rao has stated that he hopes the RTC will become a profit-making entity within two to three years.