13-day-long TSRTC strike affect normal life in Telangana

While the Telangana Government has taken a tough stand and threatened 48 thousand TSRTC employees with dismissal, the stalemate continues

Police personnel detain the agitating employees of different unions of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (PTI Photo)
Police personnel detain the agitating employees of different unions of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (PTI Photo)

Aiman Siddiqui & Vikas Shah

The 13-day long strike by state transport corporation employees has had unexpected consequences. While the Telangana Government engaged private buses and the fleet of buses with schools and colleges to tide over the crisis, the measures have been inadequate and have left commuters high and dry.

Since school and college buses are plying commercial services for the government, Dussehra holidays were extended by the Government, upsetting both educationists and students. And when a few schools and colleges went ahead to hold classes in view of the impending examinations, the Government served Show Cause notices on them.

“We can’t blame the government, we can’t blame the TSRTC employees. But how do we complete our syllabus? How do we respond to the concerns of the parents,” says Venkateshwar Rao, Principal of Sri Gayatri Junior College in Hyderabad.

The Principal of Sri Chaitanya Higher Secondary School, Ms Sunanda, says, “this will put students under pressure. To make up, we will have to take extra classes. This is not fair.”

TSRTC students have been on strike since October 5, demanding that the corporation be taken over by the Government, which, the unions allege, is planning to privatise the corporation.

Between the belligerent government stand that “we won’t listen to your demands” and the unions responding by saying, “we will continue to demand unless you listen”, any hope of a solution has been elusive.

While the Government has declared that the 48,000 employees on strike are deemed to have dismissed themselves, unions have retorted by threatening that ministers would be dismissing themselves in the next election.

13-day-long TSRTC strike affect normal life in Telangana

Employees plan to observe a one-day state-wide bandh on Oct 19. “And if the government still doesn’t listen, we will further intensify the protests,” says Joint Action Committee Chairman Ashwathama Reddy. In the meanwhile, at least three RTC employee are said to have taken their lives.

The strike has “unconditional” support of all the opposition parties in the state. “Congress demands an ex gratia of 50 lakh rupees as well as the immediate merger of RTC with state government, just like they did in Andhra Pradesh,” said Congress MP Revanth Reddy. Dr K Lakshman, the BJP state chief asserted, “We will take the matter to Delhi.”

The chief minister has been defiant. “The NDA government is busy privatising everything from railways to railway stations. And their leaders in the state are talking in exactly opposite tones,” the CM retorted in a statement. “Neither BJP nor Congress has any support from the people and they should not take part in these illegal strikes; otherwise their presence from the state will be eliminated by the people who are facing problems because of these strikes,” his statement added.

At a review meeting, KCR announced that the state government would take over only 50% of RTC buses “to get done with the blackmailing tactics of these unions and to ensure RTC turns into a profit making body”. “Other 30% will be rented buses, while 20% buses will be private,” he declared.

The move has been slammed as “a ploy to privatise RTC and hand over RTC properties worth lakhs of Crores to private players”.

JAC Convenor Ashwathama Reddy said “RTC is not the CM’s personal property. It is the CM who will lose his job when people will teach him a lesson, none of us will lose any job.”

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