Buses go off roads : TSRTC staff defy govt warning; skip duty

Buses go off roads : TSRTC staff defy govt warning; skip dutyPrivate vehicles ready to commute passengers at the Hanamkonda RTC bus station on Saturday. Photo: G Shyam Kumar (Top); TSRTC women conductors playing ‘Bathukamma’ at the Nalgonda bus station on Saturday. Photo: Srinivas Mucharla (Bottom)

Only 200 out of 50,000 employees turn up

Hyderabad: The standoff between TSRTC employees and the government continues.

Despite warning that those who do not report for duty by 6 pm on Saturday would be removed from service, the employees refused to budge and only around 200 employees across the state reported for duty. The TSRTC has a total strength of about 50,000 staff.

Taken aback by the unity displayed by the employees, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has decided to convene a meeting of the Transport Minister and other senior officials of the Transport department on Sunday.

Sources say that this would be a crucial meeting as the government is likely to examine two options -- One to reopen negotiations with the RTC staff and the other to split the TSRTC into two or three different corporations.

The meeting on Sunday will also give clarity on whether or not the government would release the salaries of the striking employees.

The employees' salary is being credited to their accounts on fifth of every month hitherto, but till late on Saturday night it has not been done this time.

On the other hand, the TSRTC JAC has decided to hold roundtable on Sunday. It will seek the support of all Opposition parties.

Interestingly, Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation employees have also extended support to the TSRTC JAC and opposed the TS government's decision to slap ESMA and sack the employees.

Though the TS government which had taken a serious view of the employees' decision to go on strike during the festive time appointed 4000 drivers and 2000 conductors on Saturday, it could not meet the heavy demand and the passengers had to suffer a lot.

The TSRTC JAC leaders said that they would not be cowed down by the threats being given by the government and would intensify their agitation from Sunday.

They will hold protests in front of all bus depots across the state playing Bathukamma involving their family members. From Monday onwards, they will hold protests at Gun Park.

The TSRTC normally operates about 10,000 buses every day in Hyderabad city. The government claimed that about 9000 buses were pressed into service.

But passengers complained of having faced several problems due to non-availability of buses. The very fact that the rush in metro and MMTS trains was heavy on Saturday indicates that adequate number of buses were not available.

The Hyderabad Metro Rail operated 100 additional services on Saturday. They operated 900 services on Saturday compared to 800 during the normal days.

The private bus/taxi and other operators fleeced the passengers by charging double the normal fares taking advantage of the strike. This despite the police displaying placards not to charge extra.

Those who had planned to go to their native places were the worst affected. At some places the employees tried to stop the buses from moving out but were taken into custody by the police.

The hiring of private drivers had its own minus points. A driver who was driving a bus belonging to Khammam depot in inebriated condition was caught by the police in Suryapet after passengers complained about his dangerous way of driving.

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