Bus services hit in State as KSRTC workers strike work
Universities postpone exams due to KSRTC strike
Bengaluru: Bus services were hit in most parts of Karnataka on Wednesday as drivers and conductors of road transport corporations (RTC) began their indefinite strike on wage-related issues.
With the government not ready to concede to their demand for implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission report, the RTC workers decided to continue with the strike.
The decision was taken despite Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa warning the workers of strict action and indicating invoking of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).
Commuters were stranded as buses of the four transport corporations almost came to a complete halt from Tuesday afternoon after drivers and conductors kept off the second shift.
Passengers travelling to and from distant areas and office-goers were the most affected.
Several universities postponed the exams because of the strike.
The government has tried to make alternative arrangements by roping in private transport operators and sought deployment of more trains.
Private buses, maxi cabs and other transport services were operating in different parts of the city, much to the rescue of stranded passengers.
However, private operators said, the number of passengers was scarce.
They said many passengers are using their own vehicles or have made arrangements on their own.
Metro rail increased the frequency of its services between 7 AM and 9 PM.
Workers of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) and North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC), under the banner of Karnataka State Road Transport Employees League, have given a call for strike from April 7.
While making it clear that the implementation of the Commission for transport workers was not possible, the government, however, agreed to an 8 per cent increase in salary as an interim relief.
But, the government said, it cannot be implemented immediately as the model code of conduct is in place and a letter has been sent to the Election Commission seeking permission.
At some places, there were complaints from passengers about private services charging exorbitantly.
Officials said they are keeping vigil and making spot visits to inspect the fare charged by private operators.
Warning against resorting to strike during the COVID-19 situation, officials have said, "No work, No pay."
Pointing out that the public is being affected because of the strike and calling on the employees to get back to work, Chief Minister Yediyurappa indicated that a decision on invoking ESMA would be taken depending on the situation.
He alleged that selfish motives of some people were behind the strike.
"We have fulfilled eight of their (workers) nine demands despite which they are adamant and have stopped buses, and are creating trouble. I appeal to them to get back to work, we can talk. Don't give room for us to take strict measures," Yediyurappa said.
Stating that some RTC buses are operating, and their numbers would increase in all the four corporations in two days, Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi said private buses are being provided facilities at bus terminals to operate from, and they have been allowed to run* without permit, but with insurance.
"In two days, we will increase their numbers, and from tomorrow about 4,000 more private buses, who had surrendered, will operate," said Savadi, who also holds the Transport portfolio.
Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, honorary president of the KSRTC Employees League, said the strike would continue indefinitely until the demand is met.
"Whenever you (CM) call us, we are ready for discussion. Our indefinite strike will continue tomorrow and thereafter, until our demands are fulfilled... Our main demand is the Sixth Pay Commission and the government has to arrive at a decision," he said.