Telangana government tells court RTC has no funds to pay September salaries
The Telangana government on Monday expressed its inability to pay salaries to the 48,000-odd striking employees of the state-run Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) for the month of September.
Arguing on behalf of the RTC management, advocate general B S Prasad told the high court that the RTC had only Rs 7.5 crore in its exchequer, while the salary bill of the employees was around Rs 224 crore.
“The strike of the RTC employees has crippled the financial position of the corporation. There is no money even to pay salaries,” the advocate general told the court.
Last week, acting on a petition filed by an RTC employee, the high court directed that the government pay salaries to all the employees, including those on strike, as they had worked for the month of September.
The petition was filed following the suicide of a conductor of the Secunderabad depot, B Surender Goud, who hanged himself after his equal monthly installment on a bank loan bounced.
The RTC management told the court then that the payment of salaries could not be done as even the accounting staff had gone on strike. It assured to arrange salary payments by Monday.
However, the advocate general attributed the RTC’s inability to pay salaries for September to the strike which entered the 17th day on Monday. “The strike by the RTC employees is illegal,” he argued.
The counsel for the petitioner argued that non-payment of salaries to the employees for the period they had worked was also against the law. He said the RTC employees were resorting to suicides due to the adamant attitude of the government. The high court posted the case for hearing on October 29.
Chairman of the Joint Action Committee of Telangana RTC employees’ unions, E Ashwathama Reddy, wondered why the RTC had no money when the government was claiming that it was running 90 per cent of the buses.
“We shall continue the strike till it attains the logical end. I request the employees not to get disheartened by such statements from the government,” Reddy said, after submitting a representation to Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan at Raj Bhavan later in the evening.
Accusing Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao of dishonouring the high court’s direction to start negations with the JAC, Reddy appealed to the Governor to intervene and prevail upon the government to begin talks.
Earlier in the day, several Telangana Congress leaders were arrested when they tried to lay siege to Pragati Bhavan, the official residence of chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao at Begumpet.
Assembly floor leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, PCC working president A Revanth Reddy, former Sangareddy MLA Jaggareddy, senior leaders Anjani Kumar Yadav and Ramulu Naik tried to reach the CM’s residence along with their supporters. They were all taken into custody by the police.
Similarly, the police kept other senior Congress leaders including Ponnala Lakshmiah, Ponnala Prabhakar, K Jana Reddy, A Sampath Kumar, Malreddy Rangareddy, D Sridhar Babu and P Vishnuvardhan Reddy under house arrest.
Meanwhile, educational institutions across the state reopened on Monday after a gap of 23 days. The vacations for Dasara festival began on September 28 and the institutions were to be reopened on October 13. But due to the RTC strike, the holidays were extended till October 19.
The managements of several private schools withdrew their buses given on hire to the RTC during the strike period in the wake of reopening of the schools. Students of other institutions had a tough time due to lack of adequate services and had to depend on private transport.