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Telangana RTC Buses to Go Off Roads from Saturday Midnight, Govt Threatens to Impose ESMA

RTC employees are demanding the merger of the corporation with the government.

PV Ramana Kumar | News18

Updated:October 4, 2019, 8:52 PM IST
Telangana RTC Buses to Go Off Roads from Saturday Midnight, Govt Threatens to Impose ESMA
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Hyderabad: The employees of state-owned Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) on Friday decided to go ahead with an indefinite strike from the midnight of October 5 even as the government said it would impose the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) and suspend those taking part.

As the government's talks with the RTC employees’ unions failed to bring the impasse to an end, trade unions leaders claimed the authorities did not respond to requests for written assurances and a three-member committee of IAS officers, appointed by the government, concluded the discussions halfheartedly without any clear guarantee.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of RTC insisted on a written assurance over their main demand for the merger of the TSRTC with the government, but the panel, comprising three IAS officials, said it would look into the subject and submit a report to the government, which will take a final decision.

Following the discussions, the JAC made it clear that it would start an indefinite strike from midnight on Saturday.

“About 50,000 RTC workers are participating in the strike. We are requesting the people to support us to save RTC,” said JAC chairperson Ashwathama Reddy.

RTC employees are demanding the merger of the corporation with the government. Recently, the Andhra Pradesh government took a similar step and merged the RTC employees with the government.

“If the merger is successful in Andhra Pradesh, why can’t we (Telangana) do it?,” the JAC has asked.

On the other hand, the three IAS officers expressed dissatisfaction with the trade union.

“Don’t trouble the people in the festive season with this strike, which is against the rules. If required, we will impose the ESMA. The government is working to solve the problems of the RTC and we want to think properly about the merger, but the trade union is not listening,” said Somesh Kumar, special principal secretary to the government.

TSRTC Managing Director Sunil Sharma, also a member of the panel, termed the strike illegal as public transport falls under the ambit of ESMA. He said the TSRTC management has powers to dismiss from service the striking employees. He added that as part of the alternate arrangements to deal with the strike, the TSRTC will operate 2,100 hired buses with the help of 3,000 temporary drivers and other employees.

Sharma said since the schools have Dussera holidays, 20,000 school buses will be operated by issuing them temporary permits.

Another panel member, Ramakrishna Rao, said the government has given Rs 3,303 crore to the TSRTC since the formation of Telangana in 2014. He claimed that the government released more money than the allocation made in the budget for last three years.

(With inputs from IANS)

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