Over 10,000 buses of the state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) were off the roads in Telangana for the third consecutive day on Wednesday as employees continued their strike to push for a separate Telangana state.
Commuters in Hyderabad, its twin city Secunderabad and nine other districts of Telangana region continue to suffer as unions representing about 60,000 employees have ruled out calling off the strike till the centre agrees to formation of separate Telangana state.
While APSRTC is operating about 200 buses in the state capital under tight security with the help of private drivers, services to and from all districts of Telangana and coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions remained completely suspended, causing hardships to commuters.
Officials said APSRTC is suffering a loss of Rs.7 crore to Rs.8 crore every day due to the strike. Despite the management relaxing permit rules for private operators, only a few have come forward fearing attacks from supporters of the strike.
Acting tough, the management Tuesday night announced the sacking of 1,355 drivers and conductors working on contract basis for participating in the strike.
It also offered to regularise services of those contract employees who return to work Wednesday. The regional managers have also been directed to recruit drivers and conductors.
Reacting sharply to the sacking of contract employees, leaders of Joint Action Committee of employees warned that such actions would have serious consequences. They assured the contract employees that they would stand by them to protect their jobs.
If the strike continues, it would be difficult to pay September salaries for 1.19 lakh employees across the state. The strike may trigger a financial crisis at the APSRTC, which already has debts of over Rs 2,000 crore.
The strike by APSRTC employees is part of 'sakala janula samme' or indefinite general strike by various sections of people in Telangana, seeking the separate state.