Anil Kumar Sastry and Nagesh Prabhu

KSRTC, BMTC were collecting fees from them

BANGALORE: Did you know employees of State-run road transport corporations were paying their respective organisations to get their transfers to other SRTCs approved?

Employees of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North West KRTC and North East KRTC, had to pay at least Rs. 10,000 along with their application for transfer.

While permanent employees of BMTC had to pay Rs. 15,000, trainee employees are supposed to pay Rs. 10,000. As a result, 631 employees of KSRTC availed this facility while the corporation received Rs. 63.1 lakh; 544 employees of BMTC availed the facility by paying Rs. 58.35 lakh; 188 of NWKRTC (Rs. 18.8 lakh) and 218 employees of NEKRTC paid Rs. 21.8 lakh to get transferred during the last year.

When KSRTC was a single entity before 1997, transfers from one part of the State to the other, from one depot to another and from one division to another, had not been a difficult task.

After division of KSRTC and formation of three more entities to curb the trade union movement, inter-corporation transfers of all the employees, right from drivers to officers, still continued.

The corporations, particularly the BMTC, started to feel the heat of enormous transfer requests after 2006 at a time when availability of skilled drivers became a cause for concern. Despite selecting good number of drivers, only 50 per cent of the selected candidates took up the job. While drivers native of Bangalore and surrounding areas preferred not to join BMTC as call centres paid attractive salaries, those reported to duty largely came from North Karnataka, where large-scale unemployment prevailed.

However, these very same drivers began to seek transfer to depots/ divisions close to their hometowns as they felt the meagre salary of Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,000 did not even meet their food requirements.

Sources said it was at this juncture the then BMTC Managing Director Upendra Tripathy devised a strategy ostensibly to discourage employees seeking inter-corporation transfers in the form of collecting the fee, since BMTC was the one which was largely affected.

The fee for permanent employees was fixed at Rs. 15,000 and for trainee employees (read drivers and conductors) was fixed at Rs. 10,000.

During the last couple of years, over 1,080 employees sought transfers under this rule even though only 544 employees were transferred as per their request.

In all, the four corporations have collected Rs. 1.62 crore under this novel fee for transfer fund. They claimed that the money so collected was being utilised for the welfare of the employees.