RTC stir cripples life
More than 1.5 crore commuters were badly hit as nearly 1.2 lakh employees of State Road Transport Corporation (RTC) of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana went on indefinite strike from Wednesday demanding 43 per cent fitment allowance on par with the State Government employees.
Hyderabad: More than 1.5 crore commuters were badly hit as nearly 1.2 lakh employees of State Road Transport Corporation (RTC) of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana went on indefinite strike from Wednesday demanding 43 per cent fitment allowance on par with the State Government employees.
With the corporation failing in its efforts to make alternative arrangements, passengers had to face the brunt. Despite the claim by transport ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Sidda Raghava Rao and P Mahender Reddy, that they would recruit drivers by paying Rs 1000 per day and conductors by paying Rs 800 per day, could not draft many on the first day of the strike.
Contrary to RTC Managing Director N Sambasiva Rao’s claims that they have begun the exercise to resume the services by hiring temporary drivers and conductors, the scene at the Kadapa bus depot presented a different picture. The officials selected only 20 from a long queue of drivers who were keen to join the emergency team. According to candidates, no official was found to attend to them.
Describing the strike as illegal, Sambasiva Rao directed the contract employees to either join the services by Thursday noon or face termination. He reiterated that the management was not in a position to give 43 per cent fitment in view of the weak economic condition of the corporation. The RTC's current losses stood at nearly Rs 560 crore.
The losses would increase further if the strike was not called off. He urged the employees to represent their issues before the Cabinet Sub-Committee. He said both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governments were keen on finding a solution to the employees’ problems. Reacting to this, the RTC unions said that it was ridiculous that the corporation was ready to pay Rs 1000 and Rs 800 to the drivers and conductors respectively.
They said that if their demand of 43 per cent fitment was accepted, it would cost the government only Rs 500 a day per employee. They fear that the corporation was putting the lives of passengers at risk by hiring contract drivers as their driving skills were questionable. At certain places, RTC employees even clashed with those who came for temporary jobs.
A total of 10,576 buses in Andhra Pradesh and 9,370 in Telangana remained off the roads on Wednesday causing extreme inconvenience to students, office-goers and other commuters. Meanwhile, Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, N Chandrababu Naidu and K Chandrashekar Rao appealed to the employees’ unions to call off the strike in view of inconvenience being caused to the general public.
The two governments have threatened to invoke invoke Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against the employees if they fail to withdraw the strike. When contacted, the corporation's Joint Managing Director (Telangana operations) G V Ramana Rao said that they were trying to get together the hired buses that the corporation uses and recruiting temporary drivers.
The corporation has about 3,000 buses on monthly hire basis, including about 1,200 in Telangana State. On the other hand, General Secretary of APSRTC-EU, K Padmakar pointed out that in all of AP, only six services were run with the help of leaders of the Telugu Nadu Trade Union Congress.
AP Transport Minister R Kishore Babu said special trains will be run by the SCR and suburban rakes will be used. East Coast Railway has agreed to operate extra trains from Visakhapatnam. Meanwhile it the RTC workers will organize protest demonstrations and rallies in front of all depots on Thursday.