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Naresh challenges SRTC staff

india Updated: Jul 14, 2006 01:23 IST

Says be ready to face music

THE FACE-OFF between Transport Minister Naresh Agarwal and over 38,000 agitating staff of the UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) begun earlier than expected.

He threw down the gauntlet to the agitating employees, asking them  to go on indefinite strike from today itself instead of stopping work from August 15.

Talking to reporters at his Mahanagar residents here on Thursday, the minister said on Thursday that the Government would not hesitate to wind up the loss-incurring corporation and notify privatisation of all the routes.

He said that that notices were being served under the ESMA on those who went on a day’s token strike yesterday.

The strike period would be treated as break in their service and their one-day salary would be deducted under the no- work-no pay formula. Services of all contractual workers of the corporation, who participated in the one-day token strike, were being terminated, and criminal cases were being registered against those who damaged properties.

The minister was in no mood to relent and decided to transfer all the income of the corporation to the State coffer to clear the dues related to passenger tax worth Rs 700 crore.

All concessions given to the corporation, including exemption of trade tax and subsidies in diesel, were being withdrawn with immediate effect.

The minister said that if needed, he would give a call to the Samajwadi Party (SP) workers to deal with the ‘anti-social elements’ among the UPSRTC employees.

However, general secretary of the UPSRTC Employees Union Tej Bahadur Sharma strongly  criticised the minister for adopting ‘undemocratic and suppressive’. He urged the Chief Minister to do justice with to the employees.

Talking to Hindustan Times, Sharma, however, claimed that Naresh Agarwal would not succeed in terrorising the employees who were simply asking for their legal dues.

He accused the private operators of indulging in heavy tax evasion in connivance with ‘a powerful lobby’.

The union, he claimed, had no option but to go on strike as various notices, dharna and demonstrations failed to evoke any response.

He claimed that the Transport Department staff  were Government employees and they were ‘shifted’ to the UPSRTC on June 1, 1972 with a guarantee that they would enjoy the same benefits as given to the Government staff.

Thus, there was no justification in comparing the UPSRTC with other corporations, he said.