It was a victory for the striking bus staff with the State government accepting most of their demands during the hectic parleys that ended late on Friday.
With this, the strike, called by the Joint Committee of Trade Unions of State Road Transport Undertakings on Thursday and which continued till Friday, has been officially called off. Talks continued late into the night with Transport Minister R. Ashok and the trade union leaders, at the end of which the Minister told presspersons that the union leaders had agreed to call off the strike with immediate effect.
H.V. Ananthasubba Rao, a committee member, urged all road transport corporation (RTC) employees to resume work from Saturday morning.
Mr. Ashok said the unions’ main demand of merging the variable dearness allowance (VDA) of 76.75 per cent with the basic salary (after the 10 per cent hike) with effect from April 1, 2012, had been accepted. This would cause the four corporations additional burden of Rs. 250 crore over the next four years. The Minister said such a pact was due only in January 2016.
Transfers effected on administrative grounds from March 2012 and show-cause notices issued to trainee employees since Thursday would be withdrawn, he said.
However, the other main demand — that of absorbing as regular staff the thousands of trainee crew — was not immediately acceptable to the government, Mr. Ashok said. But as a sop, they would be paid an additional Rs. 1,000 per month from September, which would fetch them Rs. 8,000 a month. The training period would not be extended beyond two years, he added.
The other demands of the unions would be considered by a subcommittee headed by the Director (personnel), Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, he said.
The Minister had come in for criticism from the trade unions as he had stayed away from negotiations. They had pointed out that a bureaucrat with no decision-making powers was sitting across the table with them.
The two days of strike had greatly inconvenienced commuters and travellers across the State, particularly Bangaloreans on Friday, when its perennially choked roads were further strained by the influx of private vehicles.
The strike had also raised apprehensions about holiday plans of a good many people with Ganesh Chaturthi round the corner.