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Resolve strike

Resolve strike
Highlights

The RTC strike is already crippling life in both the States. The two sides are hardening their stand. The so-called efforts of the RTC management to make alternative arrangements proved to be a damp squib.

At present, there is a wage gap of nearly 19% between the government staff and the RTC employees

The RTC strike is already crippling life in both the States. The two sides are hardening their stand. The so-called efforts of the RTC management to make alternative arrangements proved to be a damp squib. Private operators are having a field day with commuters forced to shell out exorbitant fares for their travel. At the time of examinations and marriages, the travails of people get manifold. Who should be blamed for this impasse?

This is not an unexpected development. The RTC employees have been awaiting wage revision for nearly 25 months. The TRS and the TDP which earlier strongly supported their demand are not delivering on their promise. The strike of RTC workers and employees was crucial for rousing sentiments for Telangana and united Andhra Pradesh. This sentiment was the propelling force that catapulted both TRS and TDP to power.

The RTC workers are demanding 43% fitment while the management is offering only 27% which they are already getting as interim relief. The wage hike has been due for more than two years. Until early 2000, RTC workers were getting salaries equal to their counterparts in the State government. Since then wage revision for the RTC workers has not been on a par with the State government employees though the RTC is a government- run corporation, resulting in the current wage gap of nearly 19% between the government and the RTC employees.

The governments have stopped investing in the RTC since mid-nineties. On the contrary, they have been squeezing the RTC through taxation and imposing social obligations. The government is even taxing the loss-making rural services of the RTC. In fact, an IIM study team appointed by it has recommended withdrawal of such taxes, but to no avail. Andhra Pradesh alone consumes 60,000 tyres a year. But, RTC does not have its own production of tyres which would save hundreds of crores.

A unit was planned at Mangalagiri, but it did not come up. While the Railways pays marginal tax on fuel, the RTC is burdened with a higher tax. The government that reduced tax on aviation turbine fuel to negligible rate does not consider mass transport like RTC eligible for such a sop.

Even authoritative estimates suggest RTC is losing as much as Rs 2,000 crore annually in both the States due to illegal private transport. RTC would earn hundreds of crores if it adopts measures like goods transport, commercial development of its assets etc. Instead of taking such measures to augment income, the management is arguing that a massive fare hike is a must to implement wage revision.

The government and the RTC should immediately take up measures to plug revenue gaps, initiate income generating measures so that the corporation and its employees prosper and passengers would have access to efficient and cheaper public transport.

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