Telangana Transport Employees Call off Agitation after 52 Days; KCR Meets Governor
Hyderabad: The nearly two-month-old strike by employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation over various demands was called off on Monday, a top trade union leader said.
The TSRTC employee unions’ Joint Action Committee (JAC) leader, Aswathama Reddy, said the decision to end the strike after 52 days was taken to halt alleged attempts to 'privatise' the corporation.
Over 48,000 employees of TSRTC went on an indefinite strike on October 5, demanding among other things, merger of the corporation with the state transport department. However, neither the TSRTC management nor the state government has acceded to any demand of the workers.
Reddy urged workers to get back to work and reach their depots at 6am on Tuesday irrespective of their shift timings even as he expressed confidence that they would get justice in the labour court and efforts and sacrifices of the last two months would not go to waste.
“We are not defeated. Neither has the government won this battle. We have succeeded in drawing the attention of all sections of people and would continue our agitation. The government's attitude towards our stir is very unfortunate,” Reddy said.
“Innocent workers sacrificed their lives. It is a moral win of workers. I am thankful to all of you who believed in the JAC leadership and participated in the strike. This agitation will definitely lead to a solution in future,” he added.
"...attempts are being made to privatize TSRTC; to stop and face this, whether the government responds or not, we should all go to (bus) depots tomorrow morning and bring pressure on the management towards taking up our duties," Reddy told reporters.
However, TSRTC MD has called the JAC's latest move ridiculous and said till the process as suggested by the high court is completed, workers who have been protesting since weeks cannot be taken back to work.
He claimed that attempts are being to issue a Government Order (GO), by taking up the matter with the Governor, allowing more private services.
On November 22, the Telangana High Court had dismissed a petition, challenging the state cabinet decision to privatise over 5,000 bus routes. The court, while dismissing the petition of PL Vishweshwar Rao, vice-president of the Telangana Jana Samithi, challenging the cabinet's November 2 decision to privatise permits of 5,100 bus routes, said the state government has the authority to take a decision on the matter.
Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had defended the cabinet decision, saying it was done to maintain healthy competition and had warned that the other routes would also be given to private operators if TSRTC workers did not rejoin duty.
Last week, the union leaders had said they were willing to join duty if the government provides a congenial atmosphere.
Earlier in the day, the chief minister met Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan here.
Rao, who is popularly known as KCR, is said to have discussed the privatisation of bus routes and fate of the agitating employees. The issues of coming up with a voluntary retirement scheme for employees of the loss-making corporation and retaining the others may have also figured prominently during the discussions.
Last Saturday, the transport unions had called for an intensified agitation after the high court gave a verdict in favour of the government’s proposal to privatise the bus routes in the state.
The high court has also referred the case to the labour commissioner and directed the latter to take a call within 15 days on whether the ongoing strike by the unions should be referred to the Labour Court. The court also told the Commissioner to decide the legality of the strike and approach the labour court if the need arises.
Though the chief minister had initially called the agitation illegal and said all the striking employees would lose their jobs if they refused to join duty, Rao has held a few meetings with key aides and government officials over the issue in the last few days.
(With inputs from PTI)