Karnataka govt refuses transport worker’s demands to be paid on par with sixth pay commission
The Karnataka government on Tuesday refused to entertain any more discussions with the employees of the four major state-owned transport corporations after what appeared to be a failure of talks between the two sides. P Ravi Kumar, the chief secretary of Karnataka, said that they will not be able to fulfil the demand of the employees to be paid on par with their counterparts in the government and in accordance with the sixth pay commission.
“We cannot do this at all. Paying salaries under the sixth pay commission for transport employees is just not possible,” Kumar told reporters after a meeting with chief minister BS Yediyurappa in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
The statements come a day before employees of the four transport corporations, including the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), that provide intra-city bus services within India’s IT capital, have threatened to go on a strike from Wednesday.
Kumar said that the government has written to the Election Commission (EC) to approve its proposal to give an 8% hike in wages since there was a code of conduct in effect due to the upcoming bypolls on April 17.
He said that there were attempts made by the government to convince the workers to give up on their idea of a strike due to the Covid-19 situation. Kumar said that the government has fulfilled eight out of the nine demands made by the workers.
Kumar said that workers have been given a raise every 4 years as against 5-6 or even once in 10 years for their counterparts in the government.
The government also said that it paid salaries to all transport workers, amounting to ₹2100 crore, despite a drop in collections due to Covid-19-induced lockdown and hesitancy by commuters to use public services.
Kumar said that transport corporations were incurring losses worth ₹4 crore per day but the government had assured them salaries irrespective. He added that the transport department has been working on a plan to allow private bus service providers within the city and outside to cater to the demand if the workers go ahead with the strike.
Meanwhile, the workers union are yet to decide on their next move.
Vijay Bhaskar, a member of the transport workers union, said that the difference between government employees and agitating workers is almost 19% and the 8% increase was also taken without any consultation with those striking.
Kumar has warned workers of stern action if anyone resorts to violence or damaging of public property.