Transport and Devaswom Minister V.S. Sivakumar has urged the CITU-affiliated Kerala State Road Transport Employees Association to withdraw from the one-day strike called from November 15 midnight in view of the Mandalam- Makaravilakku season in Sabarimala.

The proposed strike by a section of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) employees was against the interests of Ayyappa pilgrims who would be reaching Sabarimala from November 16 from and outside the State, Mr. Sivakumar said in a statement here.

The demands of the union were among those raised by the recognised unions in the KSRTC and were under active consideration of the government and, hence, there was no relevance for the stir.

The Minister said the strike would cause undue hardship to the pilgrims.

The government had initiated several steps to save the loss-making KSRTC by taking the employees into confidence.

Mr. Sivakumar said 14 per cent of the DA arrears had been issued and Rs.150 crore was given to the KSRTC to overcome the financial crisis after the UDF came to power.

The wages of casual drivers, mechanics, and conductors were increased and 922 drivers had been posted through the employment exchanges.

The employees were lending help to the KSRTC by operating more schedules thereby generating more revenue for the corporation.

The Minister said the KSRTC had 520 more buses in the fleet now compared to the strength last November. Chassis of the 500 new buses that had been ordered had started arriving and steps had been taken to speed up bodybuilding in the KSRTC units.

Mr. Sivakumar said the government was firm on protecting the rights of the employees.

The government was for holding discussions with the unions and to solve the issues and genuine demands.