Public transport in Telangana paralysed as RTC workers begin strike despite govt warning
Public transport services in Telangana were severely affected on Saturday with over 50,000 employees and workers of state-run road transport corporation (RTC) launching an indefinite strike despite a stern warning from chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) that they risk losing their jobs by end of the day.
Rao issued the warning late in the night that all those who fail to return to their duties would automatically lose their jobs according to service rules.
Watch | Telangana: RTC workers begin indefinite strike despite govt warning
“The RTC employees have been given time till 6 pm on Saturday. If they don’t join their duties, they will be deemed to have given up their jobs on their own and there is no question of taking them back into the services,” a statement from chief minister’s office said, after KCR held an emergency meeting after his return from Delhi late in the night.
But RTC employees ignored the warning. E Ashwathama Reddy, chairman of Joint Action Committee of Telangana RTC employees and workers’ unions, said there was no question of succumbing to such intimidating tactics from the government.
There have been reports of buses being confined to depots in several parts of the Telangana with striking employees locking up the gates and staging dharnas in front of bus stations.
The employees have been demanding, among other things, merger of RTC with the state government as was done in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, where they are being treated as government employees with their retirement age being enhanced to 60 years.
They are also demanding revision of their salaries pending since April 2017. They want fresh recruitment in the corporation to reduce the workload on the employees.
State transport minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar made it clear that there was no question of merging the TSRTC with the government as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi did not made any such promise in its manifesto.
“The wages of RTC employees in Telangana are higher than those in many other states. The corporation is already running in heavy losses and they would only go up if the workers resort to strike. Ultimately, the RTC will suffer further,” he said.
Though the RTC management made alternative arrangements like hiring of drivers and conductors on temporary basis and roping in private bus operators, the steps were inadequate.
The biggest trouble was faced by thousands of people heading to their native places for Dushera festivities. The transport department authorities managed to run skeletal services with the help of temporary drivers, but they were not enough to meet the demand of festival crowds.
Private bus operators also started running extra buses since morning, but there were complaints from the passengers that these operators were fleecing them. “I normally pay Rs 160 to Warangal in an express bus, but the private bus operator demanded Rs 450 this morning,” complained T Sunitha from Nellikuduru in Mahabubabad district.
The transport minister warned the private operators against charging higher amount than the prescribed rates and said they would have to face the punitive action.
In the state capital city of Hyderabad, the RTC buses were off the roads causing a lot of troubles for regular commuters and office-goers. The Hyderabad metro rail started operating its services from 5 am and will run till 11.30 pm. It also increased the frequency of the trains.