Wrath of CM KCR on RTC employees

Wrath of CM KCR on RTC employees

It is unbecoming of a democratically elected Chief Minister of a State to indulge in oppressive hegemony over small employees of a quasi-government corporation like the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC).

It is unbecoming of a democratically elected Chief Minister of a State to indulge in oppressive hegemony over small employees of a quasi-government corporation like the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC).

The only provocation for the Chief Minister of Telangana State K Chandrashekar Rao seems to be a legal strike of the TSRTC employees, to pressure the government to consider their 26 demands.

While employee unions are not necessarily justified on every demand they raise, it is their legal right to present their demands. It is the responsibility of the organisation's management to sit across the table, negotiate and resolve some or all of their demands amicably.

Surprisingly, what is happening with the TSRTC strike is that there is no full-time management appointed by the State government for the past three years, so there's no one to engage in any discussion with employees at the organisation level.

It is unimaginable, that an important corporation such as RTC, which transports over 95 lakh people every day across the State, has over 50,000 employees, over 10,000 buses and is a nerve centre for rural and urban connectivity, is of such less priority for the KCR government, that a Chairman and a Managing Director are not appointed for years.

So, when demands pile up, and there is no possibility of talks between management and labour unions, with a six week notice, the TSRTC employee unions went on strike boycotting their duties. Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 and Trade Unions Act of 1926 have clear provisions for legal strikes of employee unions.

In a normal scenario, if there is a legal strike executed by employee unions such as this one, the State government should sit up and take immediate notice.

It should urgently plan a reconciliation process to bring the striking unions to the table for talks at different levels, by deputing officers from different ranks in the absence of a statutorily appointed management team at the organisation level.

However, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has quite abrasively and in an authoritarian manner warned the employees on the first day of the strike, that if they had not reported to work by the end of the day, they would be dismissed from their jobs instantly.

He, in fact, has acted on the warning the same evening and announced that he has dismissed 48,000 employees who were still on strike and did not heed to his warning.

With an afterthought the next morning, Chandrashekar Rao coined a new word which the world never heard – 'self-dismissed'. He announced that all the 48,000 employees have 'self-dismissed' themselves from jobs and Chandrashekar Rao also declared they wouldn't be paid the wages for the earlier month they had worked.

Can Chandrashekar Rao go any lower in pettiness than he already did? In fact, he further found a new bottom, in the consequent days of the strike.

It is 27 days since the TSRTC employees went on strike. Almost 4 core population of Telangana State are impacted in one way or another.

Especially, cores of common people whose livelihoods depend on public transport like farmers, petty traders, small employees, students, senior citizens and poor people from small villages and hamlets.

Chandrashekar Rao's irresponsible and arrogant statements on total privatisation, complete liquidation of RTC, permanent termination of 48,000 employees and the like have played havoc with emotionally weak employees.

Some committed suicides and few died out of shock and cardiac arrest. Around 14 RTC employees died, but even these gruesome didn't impact stone cold Chandrashekar Rao to think of a quick and amicable resolution. He continues his wrath on the small employees who are socially and economically poor till date.

Chandrashekar Rao time and again talks of his stature as a Chief Minister and that he cannot involve in direct talks with RTC employee unions.

However, the fact is clear that every single decision, action and statement regarding RTC employees strike is being made by Chandrashekar Rao directly and not even through the Transport Minister nor the ad-hoc RTC management. They have neither any say in the matter, nor they have any clue of why Chandrashekar Rao is doing, what he is doing.

The dismal manner in which Chandrashekar Rao has been dealing with such a small crisis, exposes his small stature and incompetence to govern the State in the capacity of a Chief Minister.

By taking the employee union strike as a personal prestige issue and acting vengeful on small employees of RTC, Chandrashekar Rao has not just lowered his personal stature but also the stature of the role of Chief Minister.

Chandrashekar Rao's brazen tactics, his government's misrepresentation of facts to the High Court, his utter lack of empathy to the common people's inconvenience and sympathy to the woes of RTC employees raise massive suspicion on his actual intentions.

Chandrashekar Rao's repeated threat of liquidation of RTC and privatising entire services certainly points at his eagerness to handover RTC and its thousands of crores valuable assets to a few pet private enterprises.

It is a certainty, that the immediate future of Telangana State government, the TRS and Chandrashekar Rao are under serious threat of political instability.

Chandrashekar Rao's future actions in dealing with RTC strike will decide the degree of political churn in Telangana State.

(Author is the chief spokesperson of Telangana State BJP, an organisational strategist and a global leadership coach)

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