Telangana RTC employees end 47-day strike, want to return to work
Telangana RTC employees threw in the towel after 47 days of strike during which seven of them died and five others committed suicide.Updated: Nov 20, 2019 20:34 IST
Employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) on Wednesday announced ending their 47-day-old strike and return to work without insisting that their demands are fulfilled but there has been no response from the state government.
A decision to this effect was taken by the Joint Action Committee of Telangana RTC employees’ unions at an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening.
“We are prepared to join the duties if the government takes us back unconditionally by creating a congenial atmosphere. We want the government to honour the self-respect of the employees and restore the pre-strike atmosphere in the RTC so that they would return to their duties,” JAC convenor E Ashwathama Reddy told reporters.
More than 48,000 employees of the RTC had been on strike since October 5, in pursuance of their demands that include merger of RTC with the government, revision of their pay pending since 2017, filling up vacant posts of drivers and conductors etc.
During the period of the strike, five RTC employees committed suicides. Another seven died of stroke or other tensions. The employees have not been paid their September salaries yet.
The JAC leaders said they had taken the decision to call off the agitation following Monday’s judgment of the state high court, directing the government to refer the RTC employees’ demands to the labour court within a period of two weeks.
“Though there was no response from the government to the judgment till now, the JAC has taken the initiative and decided to call off the strike in the interest of the employees and also commuters,” Reddy said.
He pointed out that the high court clearly suggested to the government to treat RTC as an ideal institution and that employees had gone to the strike only to find a solution to their problems and not to give up their jobs. He appealed to the government to refer the demands to the labour court as per the high court direction.
“We are confident that we would get justice in the labour court. We hope that the state government and also the RTC management would react positively and honour the judgment,” the JAC leader said.
He, however, asked the RTC management not to insist on any written commitment from the employees. “We shall return to the duties by signing the muster rolls. If the government is not willing to take us back into jobs, the strike will continue,” he said.
There was no response from the government to the JAC leaders’ decision to withdraw the strike. “It is for chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao to take a call and nobody can give any commitment on taking the employees back to the duties,” a senior official of the transport department said on condition of anonymity.
KCR, who initially announced that all the employees who had been on strike were deemed to have been dismissed, later set a deadline of November 5 for them to return to their duties unconditionally. But the employees, except a few, refused to join their duties.
Following the strike, the chief minister also announced 50 per cent privatisation of public transport and declared that the chapter of RTC in its present form was closed and it had reached an irreversible stage. The privatisation issue is presently in the high court.