Employees of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) owing allegiance to the KSRT Employees Association (KSRTEA) will strike work for 24 hours from
12 midnight on November 15 (Tuesday midnight to Wednesday midnight) to press their demands, president of the association Vaikom Viswan said.
Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Viswan said the demands had been made many times over the past five months, but to no avail. The strike notice was also given well in advance. However, the State government, which had made no move so far, was now accusing the workers of causing inconvenience to Sabarimala pilgrims.
The three main demands raised by the association are purchase of new buses for Sabarimala services during the pilgrim season; permanent employment for temporary workers who had completed eight years of service and unadvised and empanelled workers; and salary revision.
According to Mr. Viswan, the employees had an open mind and were ready to withdraw the strike plan if the government addressed their demands. To a question, he said the date selected for the 24-hour strike had nothing to do with the Sabarimala pilgrim season. The association had selected this date as it had to give 15-day notice for the strike.
He said the association had been on agitation mode for the past many months and the government could have resolved it much earlier.
The government had now decided to recall all buses that were less than three years on the road to be used for Sabarimala services. This would result in heavy shortage of KSRTC
buses in other sectors, he said.
“We suspect this is part of a strategy to bring in private carriers through the backdoor,” Mr. Viswan said. The United Democratic Front (UDF) government had implemented policies detrimental to the KSRTC during its last tenure and it was the policy initiatives during the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government that had brought it back on a healthy footing. The new government was
once again trying to weaken the public sector carrier, he alleged.