Bringing relief to thousands of commuters depending on private buses, the one-day strike called for Wednesday by the union of private bus crew in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi has been postponed.
This followed an hour-long meeting convened by the Deputy Commissioner N. Prakash in his office on Tuesday evening which was attended by several officials representatives of the bus crew union and the association of bus owners. A 9-member committee was formed at the meeting comprising of three representatives of the crew, as many bus owners and three officers to resolve pending issues.
The strike had been called by D.K. District Karmika Parishat Bus Naukarara Sangha headed by Ivan D’Souza against the alleged exploitation of the crew by the bus owners. They have been demanding, among other things, employee-employer relationship between the bus crew and the bus owners. At present a contract system prevails wherein bus crew have to give a certain fixed amount (it ranges from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 5,000, according to Mr. D’Souza) every day. Operating costs and collection from the tickets are the responsibility of the bus crew.
At the meeting, Mr. D’Souza said the bus owners denied provident fund and medical facilities offered by the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESI). He said the crew members aged above 45 are removed from service though they would have given their prime ages of their lives to the bus owners.
Kanara Bus Owners Association president K. Rajavarma Ballal maintained that no notice had been served by the union of the bus crew and, hence, he could not respond to the demands. He said every bus owner was keen to retain bus crew who behaved well. Bus owners also wanted security to their property.
He also alleged that bus drivers misbehaved with the public and abandoned buses when they met with accidents.
Mr. Prakash pointed out that a strike should be called only after a process of dialogue but no such attempt had been made. He said the strike could lead to KSRTC services being imposed in the city.
Leader of the bus workers' union Ivan D’Souza alleged at the meeting that a member of the union, Krishna, was assaulted on Tuesday.
President of Kanara Bus Owners Association Rajavarma Ballal said there may have been a skirmish but crew members had no right to put up posters (about the strike) on the the buses. Deputy Commissioner N. Prakash urged either side to identify “black sheeps”.