Two days ahead of the indefinite strike proposed in the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) by the employees’ unions from January 6, the State government on Monday imposed a ban on strikes in the undertaking for a period of six months from that date under the Essential Services Maintenance Act.

The unions are demanding a 25 per cent hike in pay-scales as their revision is due from April 2009 under the previous agreements signed by the RTC management with them that provided for a pay revision once every four years. The 25 per cent hike in pay scales, if effected, will impose an additional burden of over Rs. 400 crore on the management, a senior government official said.

The APSRTC management is not ready to accept the demand as the loss suffered by the undertaking so far has reached Rs. 1,100 crore due to various factors, including increase in diesel prices, and another Rs. 150 crore on account of the bandhs and agitations recently over the issue of Telangana State formation.

K. Ratna Prabha, principal secretary, Transport, Roads & Buildings, said the undertaking was in for absorbing heavy financial burden as the services of over 5,000 drivers and conductors were being regularised as decided by the Cabinet recently.

She said the discussions were being held with the representatives of the unions at the RTC management level and the government would step in at a later stage to facilitate an amicable settlement if the dialogue between the two parties enter a deadlock.

Meanwhile, sources said left with no other alternative, the APSRTC management is stated to have proposed a hike in fares by 5 to 8 paise a kilometre in case of ordinary services, 6 to 10 paise for express services and 8 to 12 paise for super deluxe services, to mobilise Rs. 500-750 crore to at least partially wipe out the loss. The government has not yet given its clearance to the proposal.