Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Monday directed the Labour Commissioner to decide within two weeks whether the stir by the state-run transport corporation employees should be referred to the labour court or not.
The high court was hearing a petition to declare the strike by the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) employees as illegal and direct them to resume duty.
Telangana advocate-general BS Prasad said the labour commissioner, on behalf of the state government, is a designated authority under Section 39 of the Industrial Disputes Act to decide whether to refer the strike to the labour court or not.
Earlier, Advocate Prakash Reddy, representing the unions, urged the court to order the government to react on the issues of the workers when Additional Advocate General Ram Chander Rao said the strike is illegal as the workers started the agitation without any prior notice.
“The corporation is already making losses and the trade union leaders are deliberately pushing it into further trouble. The government cannot call them for consultations,” Rao added.
According Section 22 (1) A of Industrial Disputes Act, the transport workers do not have any right to protest and hence, the strike is in complete violation of rules, said Rao while citing previous verdicts by the Supreme Court on such cases.
Reacting to the courts directive, the TSRTC employees union leader Aswathama Reddy said they would announce their future course of action on Tuesday evening after going through the court order. The unions have also decided to postpone the ‘Sadak Bandh’ agitation planned for Tuesday.
Aswathama Reddy and another leader Raji Reddy called off their two-day-old fast in support of their demands. The duo, who were shifted to the state-run Osmania General Hospital by police on Sunday, were developing ketone bodies, hospital sources said.
“The court said our strike is not illegal and referred to the labour commissioner to solve our issues,” Aswathama said.
The indefinite strike by the TSRTC employees over various demands entered the 45th day on Monday. The employees began the strike on October 5 in support of various various demands, including merger of the corporation with government, pay revision and recruitment to various posts. The employees’ unions have recently announced that they are ready to set aside their main demand of merger with the government.
The unions demanded that the government hold talks with them to resolve the issue. The state government had earlier said the employees' stir was illegal as they caused immense inconvenience to the public. The government has engaged the services of temporary drivers and conductors to operate buses.
Meanwhile, the court posted the case of privatisation of the TSRTC for hearing on Tuesday. A public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist PL Visweswar Rao on suicides of transport workers would also be taken up.
(With inputs from PTI)