Meeting of union leader, Minister stokes controversy

Private buses waiting to pick up passengers from Kempegowda Bus Station in Bengaluru on Monday during the strike by employees of Road Transport Corporations.   | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

As the bus strike called by a section of employees of the Road Transport Corporations (RTCs) entered the 13th day on Monday, a meeting of Kodihalli Chandrashekar, the honorary president of the Karnataka State Road Transport Employees’ League, with Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai stoked a controversy.

After the meeting, Mr. Chandrashekar claimed that he has got an assurance that issues will be resolved within three days in a cordial manner. He told mediapersons that Mr. Bommai informed that talks will take place as soon as the Chief Minister, who is receiving treatment for COVID-19, gets discharged from the hospital, and Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi returns to Bengaluru.

After the meeting, a message allegedly issued by the League, with a photo of Mr. Chandrashekar, started circulating among employees, stating that the Home Minister will hold talks with the CM on 6 th Pay Commission recommendations in two days.

However, in the evening, Mr. Savadi and Mr. Bommai refuted claims that the government has initiated the process of talks.

In a press release, Mr. Savadi said that when the strike had begun, the CM had clearly said that there is no need for any negotiation with employees, and instructed them to report back to duty. “Some leaders have said that they met the Home Minister on behalf of employees. When I checked with the Home Minister, he told me that there is no question of holding negotiations after they were ruled out by the CM, and, as instructed by the CM, employees must report back to duty,” he said in the release.

The Home Minister too, in a press release, said during the meeting, he appealed to Mr. Chandrashekar to call off the strike in the interest of the general public but did not give any assurance on the 6th pay Commission recommendations. He further said that it is not the right time to go on strike considering the COVID-19 pandemic when the public is facing problems and the government is facing financial constraints.

On Monday, the city police detained RTC employees who had come to Freedom Park and other places to take part in a hunger strike.

Meanwhile, the managements of RTCs have warned of strict against those pelting stones at buses and assaulting employees.

“RTCs are managing to run more buses. This has frustrated those on strike. Incidents of pelting stones at buses and assaulting bus crew on duty have increased. On Monday, stones were pelted at three buses running on the Kanakapura-Harohalli route. The police are taking strict action by filing cases and arresting the people involved,” said KSRTC MD Shivyogi C. Kalasad.

BMTC MD C. Shikha said that employees should not believe fake news being circulated by those who are participating in the strike. She has maintained those who have been dismissed from the service will not be reinstated. “The BMTC has been strict against those who are taking part in the strike and remaining absent from work without any authorisation. After suspension and dismissal, many employees have communicated that they could not report to work out of fear. It is once again affirmed that adequate police protection will be given to employees returning to work,” she said in a statement.

On Monday, the BMTC dismissed 200 employees for taking part in the strike while KSRTC dismissed 251 trainee employees.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 10:06:08 AM |

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