Udayavni Special

Karnataka govt bans RTC employees strike as stalemate continues

PTI, Apr 10, 2021, 8:21 AM IST

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Friday banned with immediate effect the indefinite strike by employees of road transport corporations over wage-related issues, which completed its third day, affecting bus services across the State.

Citing inconvenience caused to the public and the strike being against the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, the Labour Department issued the ban orders.

The dispute has been referred to the industrial tribunal, Bengaluru, for adjudication, it added.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa appealed to the employees to resume work even as he made it clear that it was not possible to meet their demand for wages as per the Sixth Pay Commission.

Also ruling out any talks, he asked them not to be stubborn under ”someone’s influence” and understand the financial difficulties of the government in the present situation and cooperate by resuming services, in the interest of the public.

”I request the transport workers with folded hands..don’t be stubborn under someone’s influence. Last year, despite COVID related issues when your corporations didn’t have money to pay your salaries, we paid it by utilising Rs 2,300 crore from the exchequer,” Yediyurappa told reporters here.

The CM clarified that implementation of the sixth pay commission report for RTC workers was not possible under any circumstances in the given situation.

With the government reiterating its stand on wages as per the Sixth Pay Commission, RTC employees decided to continue with the strike on Saturday as well.

Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, honorary president of Karnataka State Road Transport Employees League, said the strike would continue for the fourth day on Saturday.

He also urged the Chief Minister to hear them.

On Friday, as employees of all four transport corporations did not attend duty, buses continued to remain off roads across the state, including Bengaluru, affecting daily commuters.

Passengers travelling to and from distant areas and office-goers were the most affected.

Private buses, minibuses, taxi cabs and other transport vehicles, which authorities roped in to manage the crisis and help commuters, provided services to those stranded in different parts of the city and the state.

However, the number of passengers using private buses continued to remain low in the city, as people used their own vehicles or cabs, the Metro and auto-rickshaws, especially in the city areas, private operators said.

The Metro has increased the frequency of its services between 7 AM and 9 PM.

Amid threats of ESMA and ”no work no pay,” a few RTC workers returned to work and buses were reportedly operating on some routes in the city, along with police escort, sources said, adding there are similar reports from some other places in the state.

The Chief Minister pointed out that 85 per cent of the government’s revenue goes towards salaries for government employees, various kinds of pensions and other non-plan expenditure and only 15 per cent is available for developmental works.

”…In such a situation, transport workers should not be stubborn. We have fulfilled eight of your nine demands. If there are any issues with those eight demands, rectifying it and seeing to it that you get its benefits is our responsibility and I will do it,” he said and asked them to cooperate and get back to work.

Noting that the Transport Department is for the service of the people, he asked employees to ponder over whether it was fair to remain stubborn when people are facing difficulties.

He also said that many employees are now ready to get back to work voluntarily, as he assured them security.

Transport Department Principal Secretary Anjum Parvez on Thursday had said that the daily loss because of the strike is about Rs 20 crore.

RTCs that have been warning employees against continuing with the strike have started taking action against trainee employees and are issuing notices for absence from work.

To a question on whether he will call for talks, Yediyurappa asked ”whom should I talk to? Through you (media) publicly I’m requesting.”

”…there is nothing remaining for talks. What is there to talk about after fulfilling eight out of nine demands? I’m not stubborn. As eight demands have been fulfilled, employees should come back and resume bus services. They should not fall prey listening to some people,” he added.

On his part, Kodihalli Chandrashekhar said the strike would continue until the government understands the employees’ ”justified demands.”

He also called on employees and their families to stage a protest at district and taluk centres in front of Deputy Commissioner or Tahsildar offices at 11 am on April 12 against the government’s stand.

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