Bus services were largely hampered for the sixth consecutive day in Karnataka, as the indefinite strike by employees of the road transport corporations on wage related issues continued on Monday, even as some workers reported for duty.
With the stalemate between the government and employees of the four transport corporations over their demand for wages as per the 6th Pay Commission continuing, a majority of workers did not turn up for work, resulting in buses remaining off roads, affecting commuters. Amid threats of tough action, “no work no pay”, a few RTC employees have returned to work and are operating buses on some routes in the city and different parts of the state.
Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi, who also holds the transport portfolio, said in a statement that more than 3,200 buses belonging to RTCs were operating by this afternoon, and thanked employees who returned to work, responding to the government’s call. Noting that attempts are being made to stop the employees from returning to work, he said legal action is being taken against those indulging in such acts and FIRs have been booked against them. He asked employees to report such incidents to police or RTC officials.
With RTC buses being largely scarce, people wanting to travel to their native towns and villages to celebrate Ugadi tomorrow and office goers were the most affected. Private buses, mini buses, maxi cabs and other passenger transport vehicles, whom authorities have roped in to manage the crisis and help commuters provided services to passengers in different parts of the city and the state.
The Metro, autorickshaws and cabs were also being largely used for commuting within the city. Meanwhile, intensifying their protest, employees, along with their family members, staged demonstrations at various district and taluk centres on Monday against the government’s stand. While the protest was subdued in Bengaluru, there were reports about workers being detained at different places as the government had banned protests and demonstrations in the wake of the surge in COVID-19 cases. Accusing the government of not paying their March salaries, thereby affecting their Ugadi celebrations, some employees and their family members said those who have returned to work are being paid.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka State Road Transport Employees League decided to continue with the strike and stage protests at various places on Tuesday, despite it being Ugadi festival. They also decided to file complaints at various police stations against the authorities for non payment of March salaries to striking employees. Reiterating the government’s stand on the strike, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa in Bidar asked the employees to report for duty and not inconvenience people who want to travel to their places for festivities.
“Action is being taken…those absent from work will not be paid salary and more stringent measures will be taken. At this difficult time Rs 2,300 crore has been spent from the government’s exchequer for their salary. we have done things in their favour. Listening to someone, they are indulging in strike. It is not right,” he added.
RTCs that have been warning employees against continuing with the strike have started taking action against trainee and probationary employees by dismissing them for absence from work and not responding to notices.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Sunday had said it has decided not to consider requests for inter-corporation transfers of employees “who are instigating, threatening colleagues for strike and are hindering bus services, thereby causing inconvenience to the public.” It had also said that employees who have been given such transfers have been warned that it would be cancelled and that they would be posted to their original place on failing to attend duty immediately.
Citing inconvenience caused to the public and the strike being against provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, the Labour department on Friday had banned the strike and referred the dispute to the industrial tribunal, Bengaluru, for adjudication.
Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, honorary president of the Karnataka State Road Transport Employees League said their protest would continue peacefully on Tuesday also, despite it being Ugadi. “On the day of festival, at various places in Bengaluru and other areas, we will protest with plates, to bring to the notice of the people that employees” salaries were not being paid and hence they were unable to celebrate the festival,” he said, Chandrashekhar said they would also file complaints at various police stations against depot managers for not paying the salaries in March. PTI