RTC buses remain off road as staff strike work for pay hike

Endless wait: Passengers waiting for bus at the Ernakulam bus stand on Friday.  

Bus services of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) were disrupted across the State from Thursday midnight following a strike by various employees unions demanding pay revision.

On Friday, scores of people were seen stranded at various bus depots, especially in southern districts, which are completely dependent on the State-run transport service. Attendance in Government offices and schools in some areas that are completely dependent on the KSRTC was affected.

The KSRTC’s fleet remained completely off the road till Friday midnight, as the Kerala State Road Transport Employees Association (KSRTEA) affiliated to the Centre for Indian Trade Unions and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh-affiliated Kerala State Transport Employees Sangh (KSTES) have called a 24-hour strike. As the Indian National Trade Union Congress-affiliated Transport Democratic Federation (TDF) and the union affiliated to the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), have called for a 48-hour strike, the services could be disrupted partially on Saturday too.

Talks failed

The employees’ unions decided to go ahead with the strike following the failure of the talks related to pay revision with Transport Minister Antony Raju and top officials of the KSRTC earlier this week. The unions have maintained that pay has not been revised in the past nine years. Though the Chief Minister had earlier promised to implement pay revision by June this year, there has been no progress on this front, according to the unions.

On Thursday, the State Government decided to impose dies-non to dissuade the employees from going ahead with the strike. However, the unions decided to go ahead with the strike.

Addressing a press conference here on Friday, Transport Minister Antony Raju accused the unions of not giving him sufficient time to hold discussions with the Chief Minister on pay revision. He said that the State Government would consider declaring KSRTC an essential service if the trade unions continued with the strike.

“The Government is currently spending ₹80 crore every month to provide salaries to the KSRTC employees. Even during the COVID-19 lockdown period, when the KSRTC was not running any services, the salaries and pensions were provided without fail. With the pay revision being demanded by the unions, the Government will have to spend ₹30 additionally crore every month. But, they did not give me even 30 hours to discuss this demand with the Chief Minister,” said Mr. Raju.

Could have waited

He said that the unions could have waited for a few days as the next salary would be paid only next month, and any revision would get reflected only in next month’s salary.

“There was no need to take a rushed decision on pay revision. We cannot approve of such a tendency of putting people to difficulties and pressuring the Government. Why should the public be troubled for a dispute between the unions and the management? The Government will certainly consider declaring the KSRTC an essential service if the unions continue with such moves,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 8:36:51 AM |

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