RTC unions leaders, govt talks fail; strike to continue
Workers of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) will continue their strike after talks with the government to end their 22-day long strike failed, union representatives said on Saturday.
Leaders of the Joint Action Committee of the RTC employees’ unions said they would get back to the government after discussing the outcome of the meeting with other union leaders.
“We are ready for talks again, whenever we are called. But our agitation will continue,” E Ashwathama Reddy, one of the JAC representatives called for the meeting, said.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Friday night gave a nod to RTC’s management to hold talks with JAC representatives following a directive from the state high court.
Officials led by RTC in-charge managing director Sunil Sharma invited four of the JAC leaders – Ashwathama Reddy, K Raji Reddy, V Srinivasa Rao and K Vasudeva Rao – for talks in Hyderabad on Saturday afternoon.
However, within a couple of hours, the JAC leaders came out of the meeting and said officials were not interested in resolving the issue and were forcing them to withdraw their strike.
“We were subjected to a lot of pressure. They allowed only four of us and the other representatives were not allowed to enter the premises using police force. They took away our mobile phones and didn’t allow us to speak,” Ashwathama Reddy said while speaking to reporters after the meeting.
He said officials were willing to talk about only 21 out of their 26 demands stating that the high court had asked them to consider only those demands.
“We told them to have a discussion on all the demands and then decide which of them could be conceded by the government. But the officials were not ready to listen to us. They were not willing to consider even small financial issues on the pretext that the RTC had no money,” he said.
Sunil Sharma, who headed the government panel for talks, accused JAC leaders of being “stubborn”.
“They left the meeting hall abruptly. We waited for them. After a long wait, we realised that they will not be coming for talks,” Sharma said.
More than 49,000 employees and workers unions of TSRTC began an indefinite strike from October 5 across Telangana, demanding RTC’s merger with the government and recruitment to various posts, among others.
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.
The chief minister took a strong stand declaring their strike as illegal and said that all the 48,000-odd employees of RTC stood dismissed.
On Thursday, KCR, as the chief minister is popularly called, even announced his plan to privatise the public transport soon.
“The end of RTC is the only solution to the end of the strike. There is no way the corporation can be brought back to its original structure. It is a gone case,” KCR said.