Only five per cent of employees turned up for duty

Normal life was affected as the entire 6,200 buses in the fleet of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) remained off the road from Friday night in response to a 24-hour strike called by employees’ unions of the utility.

The strike was near-total with the KSRTC failing to operate 5,000 schedules, including 200 inter-State services.

Only five per cent of its employees, mainly officers and security personnel, turned up for duty across the State on Saturday, KSRTC sources said. The KSRTC, which is facing a financial crisis, has 35,000 employees and 7,000 empanelled staff. The buses are off the road since midnight as the employees owing allegiance to the CITU-affiliated and Congress-affiliated recognised unions and three other registered unions participated in the strike.

No untoward incident was reported on account of the strike. The police had to be called in when some employees tried to close down the KSRTC control functioning at Transport Bhavan.

The strike hit commuters who depended on the KSRTC services. As the standard XII CBSE board examinations commenced on Saturday, students from far-flung areas had to depend on other modes of transport to reach exam centres.

In Thiruvananthapuram city, Kochi, Kozhikode, and other districts, private stage carriers were of solace to the commuters. The 110-odd private buses that operated in the capital limits were crowded from the morning. Many passengers arriving at the Central railway station were stranded following the strike. Buses of the Tamil Nadu transport utility operated only up to border areas.

The services would be operational as usual only by Sunday afternoon, sources said adding the corporation had incurred loss for three days at a stretch. The daily income from the fleet was Rs.4.9 crore now.

Unions’ demand

The unions are demanding withdrawal of anti-employee provisions in the revival package, settlement of pension arrears, and protection of statutory pension, among others. The employees took out a march from Thampanoor to the Secretariat.

Dies non (no work, no pay) was invoked by the KSRTC management on all employees who did not turn up for duty on Saturday.