The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Thursday told the High Court of Karnataka that it can operate 100% bus schedules even after dismissing and suspending some of the employees for resorting to strike as it was not operating a large number of air conditioned buses at present in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interestingly, while the counsel for the Karnataka State Transport Employees’ League (KSTEL), which had given a call for strike, claimed that over 10,000 employees of road transport corporations (RTCs) have been suspended, the State Advocate-General clarified to the court that only 900 employees had been suspended so far.
It was also pointed out to the court that four recognised employees’ unions did not give call for the strike but a large number of employees, who wanted to attend to duties, were prevented by those aligned with the newly-registered KSTEL, which is not a recognised trade union by the four State transport corporations.
Meanwhile, while reiterating its earlier observation about the need to resolve the issue, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj adjourned further hearing till April 26 on a batch of PIL petitions questioning the strike and seeking directions to recover loss and damages caused due to it from the organisation that had given call for strike.
To a query of the Bench on whether the government and the RTCs were willing to keep suspension of employees in abeyance, counsel for the KSRTC said dismissed and suspended employees have a legal remedy in law to appeal against such action, and the decisions taken against the trainee/probationary employees were disciplinary actions.
The KSRTC counsel also pointed out to the Bench that services of several drivers, who were sent on deputation to various other agencies of the government, were taken back to the corporations in view of the strike.
Earlier, the counsel for KSTEL said the strike was against the inhuman treatment of employees as four recognised trade unions had sided with the managements.
Though the employees reported to duty showing deferences to the court’s earlier observations, the Bench said it would keep the petitions pending to ensure that the employees do not resort to strike again in the current scenario and to explore possibility to resolve the issue without coming in the way of prosecution of those resorted to violence.