Hinting that the State government will not revise the announced increase in salaries of employees of the State road transport corporations, Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashok, who holds the Transport portfolio, has warned that the government will invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) if the strike is not called off.
Employees of all government-owned transport corporations launched an indefinite strike on Thursday seeking fulfilment of various demands.
The strike hit bus services in Bangalore, Hassan, Mandya, Mysore, Gulbarga, Bellary and other districts, Mr. Ashok told presspersons here on Thursday. The Minister, who held a meeting with senior officials of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, said the Labour Commissioner had already declared the strike illegal under the Industrial Disputes Act.
“We will wait for a day. Then we will invoke ESMA if the employees continue their stir,” he said.
“The Government is ready for talks with the employees,” he said, adding that the BMTC Managing Director and the Secretary, Transport Department, had already held several round of talks with the employees.
Stating that the salary paid to KSRTC and BMTC staff was the highest among the southern States, the Minister said that the BMTC and KSRTC employees had been given a pay increase of 23 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.
The employees are demanding a 30 per cent increase by all the transport corporations.
The pay increase would cost the transport corporations Rs. 2,200 crore over the next four years. Already arrears of Rs. 2,000 had been paid to each employee, he said.
No employees’ union has been recognised and the issue of which union should be recognised is pending before the court.
Legal action would be taken against those who damaged buses during the strike, he said.
In view of the strike, he said the department had permitted private vehicles, including maxi-cabs and buses, to operate from all KSRTC bus stations.