The strike in the APSRTC in support of the Samaikhyandhra agitation has hit 55-year-old Gunje Chinna, one of the 60 licensed porters engaged at the RTC’s old as well as new bus stations in the city, hard. He borrowed Rs. 40,000 at the high interest rate of Rs 4 to feed his four-member family after work at the bus stations in the last 50 days following the suspension of buses due to the strike came to a halt.
He makes Rs 200-250 for the 24-hour job of loading and unloading goods at the bus stations on normal days. His son also supports the family by doing the same job.
Chinna said he has now diversified into construction work. Although he earns Rs 200 a day in the construction work, it is not regular. Besides, he is also not used to the work in the construction field. The frequent rains also make it uncertain for him to find work in the construction field. Similar is the plight the porters who have been struggling hard to keep the wolf away from the door.
The porters work in shift system with 30 members each and each shift lasts for 24 hours. The rates depend on the weight the workers carry. The earnings of all the 30 members in a shift are pooled and given to the head maistry. The head maistry, in turn, apportions the proceedings among all the shift members equally.
Sharp fall in earnings
Gunje Srinu, another porter, lamented that their daily earnings had fallen drastically in the recent past with the advent of truck autos. Vegetables and other agricultural produce had stopped arriving at the bus stations after the advent of truck autos which transport the produce from the fields to the market directly. The incidence of joint pains and spondylitis, health disorders with their nature of work, is common among them.
V. Mallikarjun, president of the APSRTC Licensed Porters Union, urged the government to save the porters from hunger.