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'Have the Right to Protest for Our Rights': TSRTC Employees to Move Court After Mass Sacking by KCR

Telangana Chief Minister, K Chandrashekar Rao sacked about 48,000 employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) for going on an indefinite strike since Friday midnight.

Rishika Sadam | CNN-News18

Updated:October 7, 2019, 1:27 PM IST
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'Have the Right to Protest for Our Rights': TSRTC Employees to Move Court After Mass Sacking by KCR
A view of the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station during TSRTC employees' strike over various demands, in Hyderabad, Saturday. (PTI Photo)

Hyderabad: In a massive layoff exercise, Telangana Chief Minister, K Chandrashekar Rao sacked about 48,000 employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) for going on an indefinite strike since Friday midnight leading to a disruption in the public transport services.

The government had given a deadline to the dissenting employees of 6 pm on Saturday to report back to work to save their jobs. But, the battle between KCR and RTC employees got intense after neither of them were ready to budge. In a dramatic escalation, after three days, about 48,000 RTC employees are now jobless.

"As it is there are less than 1,200 employees in the RTC," KCR said on Sunday indicating that those who have not reported for duty before the deadline, would be losing their jobs. His statement comes a day after the state government declared the indefinite strike as "illegal" and rejected TSRTC’s demands for a merger with it.

Different employees' and workers' unions of the TSRTC began an indefinite strike on Friday midnight across Telangana on a call given by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the corporation, demanding merger of the RTC with the government, job security and recruitment to various posts, among other things.

The neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh had recently merged the state’s transport department with the government and further increased the retirement age to sixty years.

According to the Unions, one of the major concerns for RTC employees is the lack of job security.

“RTC employees do not even get pensions when they retire. For instance, the driver or the conductor will have to shell out money from their pockets even if there’s a slight damage to the buses in use,” Alluri Ravishankar, member of Bhartiya Majdhoor Sangham, told News18. The salaries received by the workers is as dismal and low as Rs 18,000 and go up to Rs 40,000, he said.

Among the 26 demands submitted by the group of unions, an increase in pay scale is something that has been pending since 2017. The employees also sought a fresh recruitment drive within the corporation in order to reduce their workload. Other demands include RTC being exempted from taxes, child care holidays for women employees, purchase of new buses and removal of hired buses, clearing dues to the corporation owed by the government, and allowing the Corporation to undertake parcel and courier services.

The last time the KCR-led government hiked the salaries of the TRC employees by 44 per cent was in 2015 when the workers demonstrated for their rights.“Our wages need to be hiked every five years. So, it’s valid for us to demand for it now,” said one of the Union leaders.

Meanwhile, in a high-profile meeting on Sunday, CM KCR had slashed all the demands by the RTC employees and said that there is no scope for a merger whatsoever. “When RTC is under such a bad situation, there is no question of having any compromise with those resorting to unlawful strike that, too, during the festival season. Under any circumstances, RTC will not be merged with the government and the government will not have any talks with those who went on strike,” the official statement from the CM’s office quoted him as saying.

The Chief Minister also said that the RTC is incurring a loss of Rs 1200 crore and has Rs 5,000 crore as debt, coupled with rising the diesel prices.

Moreover, to make RTC profitable, the chief minister had suggested partial privatization of public transport, adding that fifty per cent of the buses run would be private and the rest would be RTC buses. In an immediate measure, KCR had ordered to take 2500 private buses on lease and grant permissions to another 4,115 private buses to be brought into the RTC.

KCR had also asked for immediate recruitment of new employees, especially in departments whose employees have been on strike. However, the new employees will have to give it in undertaking that they would not join in any trade union at the time of joining.

Meanwhile, trade bodies will challenge the state government's decision to sack about 48,000 agitating employees, as and when they are served with dismissal or suspension notices.

“They have done nothing wrong,” Ravishankar rued. “According to Trade Dispute Act, the notice for a strike should be given 15 days before, the RTC employees have given it 20 days before. Protesting for their rights is their right.”

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