Telangana HC asks government to hold talks with striking RTC employees on Saturday
The Joint Action Committee of the RTC employees’ unions have called for a Telangana shutdown on Saturday. All the opposition parties and several trade unions extended their support to the shutdown.Updated: Oct 18, 2019 22:07 IST
Expressing concern over the attitude of the Telangana government in dealing with the strike of Road Transport Corporation (RTC) employees, the high court on Friday asked the state government and the RTC management to call the leaders of employees’ unions for talks on Saturday morning.
The high court asked both the sides to conclude the talks within three days and report the outcome of the negotiations to the court by October 28, when the next hearing would take place.
More than 48,000 employees and workers of the RTC have been on strike since October 5 citing their demands, which include the merger of RTC with the government and revision of pay scales which have been pending since 2017.
The Joint Action Committee of the RTC employees’ unions have called for a Telangana shutdown on Saturday. All the opposition parties and several trade unions extended their support to the shutdown. Even auto rickshaw unions and cab operators including Uber and Ola declared that they would be off the roads to show solidarity for the shutdown.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao held a meeting with senior officials of the transport department on Thursday evening and stood firm on his stand of dismissing 48,000-odd striking employees and not holding any talks with the employees’ unions. He instructed the officials to make all arrangements to operate 100% buses by Monday, when the educational institutions are due to reopen.
The high court, which had earlier set Friday as the deadline for the state government and the RTC employees’ unions to end the deadlock, pulled up the government for not taking any initiative though the employees’ unions were ready for talks.
It also wondered why the government had ignored the court order for appointment of a regular managing director for RTC.
The government, in its report, told the court that the RTC was in neck-deep debt and was not in a position to appoint a regular MD. After the formation of Telangana, the salaries of the employees were increased by 67% and the government had been bearing the losses of the corporation, it said.
The government accused the RTC unions of going on strike even before the conclusion of talks with the three-member IAS officers’ committee. “These unions have been stalling the attempts of the government to reform the RTC and bring it back on track,” it said.
However, the court observed that a majority of the demands put forth by the RTC unions, like increase of house rent allowance and issuance of health cards to the staff, could be easily solved. “The government should resolve the issues of employees like a big brother. Otherwise, there could be revolt from the people,” it observed.
While there was no response from the Telangana government on the suggestions of the government, JAC leader E Ashwathama Reddy said the unions were ready for the negotiations whenever they were called by the government. “Till such time, our agitation will continue,” he said.
Telangana Congress legislature party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka demanded that the government should hold talks with the employees immediately to end the impasse. He said his party would extend all support to Saturday’s Telangana shutdown.
Telangana Bharatiya Janata Party’s official spokesperson K Krishnasagar Rao welcomed the high court order to initiate talks with the striking RTC employee unions. Stating that the court order was a smack on the knuckles for the state government, Rao demanded that the chief minister himself should personally hold talks with the RTC employees.
Meanwhile, the Jeypore police in Mancherial district booked a 35-year-old driver who was temporarily appointed to run a RTC bus for allegedly molesting a woman conductor late on Thursday night.
The police said the woman conductor lodged a complaint stating that Srinivas, driving the RTC bus from Chennur to Mancherial, while returning from duty, stopped the bus midway after ensuring that all the passengers had disembarked and tried to molest her.
“She escaped from him and came to the police station to lodge a complaint. We have registered a case against Srinivas for the rape attempt and are on the lookout for him,” the police said.