KCR refuses to invite striking RTC employees for talks, impasse continues
The impasse over the indefinite strike by employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) continued on Thursday with the state government refusing to budge from its stand of not holding talks with the union leaders despite the high court’s directions.
Though leaders of the Joint Action Committee of Telagana RTC employees and workers’ unions said they were ready for talks to discuss their demands, there was no invitation from either the RTC management or the government as the strike entered its 13th day Thursday.
“The high court has asked the government to call us for talks. From our side, we are ready for talks whenever we get the call from the government. Till the issue is resolved, our agitation will continue,” JAC chairman E Ashwathama Reddy said.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) held two rounds of marathon meeting with transport minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar and senior officials of the transport department and RTC, first on Wednesday night and again on Thursday evening.
However, there was no official communication to the CMO on the decisions taken at the meeting. An official familiar with the development said the meeting was only to discuss the report to be submitted to the high court on Friday, when the issue comes up for hearing again.
“The chief minister directed the officials to come out with a report on the alternative measures being taken to prevent inconvenience to the commuters,” the official said.
KCR, according to the official, is firm on his stand on not holding talks with the striking employees and not taking them back into the services and 48,000 employees would continue to be out of the rolls of the RTC, he said.
The chief minister instructed the RTC management to issue a notification for immediate hiring of 1,035 private buses and bringing them into operation from Monday when the educational institutions reopen.
“The officials submitted a report on the losses incurred by the RTC in the last 13 days and the same will be placed before the high court,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, sought a report from the state government on the steps being taken to resolve the crisis in the RTC. She called up the transport minister to get first hand information on strike and he, in turn, sent principal secretary Sunil Sharma to Raj Bhavan to brief her on the latest situation.
With no communication from the government on the negotiations, the JAC leaders warned that the adamant attitude of the chief minister might lead to Constitutional crisis in the state.
Alleging that the government was resorting to intimidating tactics, JAC chairman Reddy said his phone was being tapped. “We are getting support from all sections of people. Even some TRS leaders and a couple of ministers have spoken to us and expressed their sympathy with our cause,” he said.
Telangana NGOs Association leaders also met chief secretary S K Joshi and submitted a memorandum on the pending issues to be resolved. Association president K Ravinder Reddy extended the support of the NGOs to the RTC employees’ strike.
The striking employees staged protest in front of bus depots to prevent the buses from coming out but they were arrested by the police.
The JAC is also going ahead with its plans for Telangana shutdown on Saturday. All the opposition parties and several trade unions extended their support to the shutdown.