RTC staff take to the streets, threaten to ‘beg’ on Ugadi

KARNATAKA BENGALURU 12/04/2021 : Passengers arrive to board KSRTC bus, from Mysuru Road Satellite Bus stand, during the RTC employees indefinite strike, in Bengaluru on April 12, 2021. Photo: MURALI KUMAR K / The Hindu   | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

The striking Road Transport Corporation (RTC) employees took to the streets on Monday in many cities, with their family members, including small children in several cases, demanding implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission. The striking workers have announced that they will symbolically “beg on the streets” on Ugadi festival on Tuesday as the government had “unfairly” not paid their March salaries.

Protesting employees and family members were taken into custody in several districts, including Bengaluru, for violating COVID-19 protocols that have explicitly banned all protests. While a KSRTC employee attempted suicide in Hassan by consuming poison, family members of striking workers assaulted and forcefully made drivers making trips alight buses in three instances, for which cases have been booked.

Nine KSRTC buses were stoned in Hassan, Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, and Kolar districts on Monday.

The government continued to take punitive measures. As announced on Sunday, RTCs released the March salary to only 10,430 of the nearly 1.3 lakh workforce, who did not go on strike, withholding pay of striking workers. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, speaking at Basavakalyan where he has been campaigning for the bypoll, said the government would take more stringent measures and would not pay salaries to employees who were absent from duty.

“It is both morally and legally wrong to withhold salaries for days we have worked. The government is being vindictive. They are dismissing trainees and probationers, even as they have now begun targeting senior employees over the age of 50,” rued R. Chandrashekhar, president, KSRTC Employees’ League. “The BJP that claims to speak for the Hindu cause, is punishing lakhs of households by not paying salaries due to them on the eve of Ugadi. So, our employees and their families will beg on the streets on Tuesday to symbolically state this is what RTC employees have been reduced to,” Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, honorary president of the league, said.

Seniors targeted

The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has issued notices to 2,237 employees in the 50-55 age group, asking them to report to duty by April 15 evening 5 p.m. or face action.

The BMTC has said seven employees above the age of 55, served notices on April 10, “are deemed to be retired on Monday”. Sources said the corporation was thinking to similarly “retire” those of the 2,237 employees who do not report to work by Thursday.

Meanwhile, the BMTC dismissed 63 trainees and 61 probationers from service on Monday. The corporation has also till date suspended 260 employees for participating in the strike and instigating other colleagues to strike work.

Pay salaries: DKS

On the eve of Ugadi, KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar appealed to the State government to pay March salary to all employees of road transport corporations.

The government withheld the salary to those who have not reported to work.

“The government should at least have the courtesy to hold a meeting with striking employees’ leaders today or tomorrow to resolve the issue amicably,” Mr. Shivakumar said.

Citing COVID-19 norms, the government was curtailing the rights of protesting employees by detaining them. “Why did the government allow holding political rallies for byelections then?” he asked. “While the Congress stood for nationalisation, the BJP supported privatisation” he said. opposing the government’s inkling towards privatisation of RTCs.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 12:55:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/rtc-staff-take-to-the-streets-threaten-to-beg-on-ugadi/article34305690.ece

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