TSRTC staff call off its longest strike, high hopes on Labour commission

Hyderabad: As the ongoing RTC strike enters its 47th day, it marks the longest-ever protest in the history of TSRTC. Meanwhile, the JAC of employees on Wednesday agreed to end the strike subject to a call from the Telangana government.

Telangana High Court transferred the TSRTC case to Labour Court. JAC convener Ashwathama Reddy attributed it to the plight of employees’ families, organisation revenue loss, inconvenience of passengers, etc. He exerted confidence in getting justice from Labour Commissioner. Meanwhile, the High Court adjourned the hearing on the privatisation of TSRTC routes to Friday.

Ever since October 5, 2019, when the strike began, 48,000 employees and the state government were equally firm on their stand. However, JAC turned soft and six days ago offered to exclude merger demand from its list of 26 demands.

“If the Telangana government agrees to an unconditional joining report, then we’re ready to call off the strike. Considering the plight of families of employees and revenue loss of the organisation, and hope of justice from the Labour Commissioner, we have decided to call off the strike,” said Ashwathama Reddy. However, he added that the employees would sign only duty charts and not any other agreement.

Ashwathama noted that the Telangana government should honour the self-respect of TSRTC employees and ensure a peaceful atmosphere. “The High Court directed us to resolve the problem within two days in Labour Court. We respect the HC judgement, and after the judgment, we have not received any direction or advice from the Telangana government. We have decided to call off the strike after thoroughly thinking from the perspective of the employees and organisation,” added the JAC convenor.

TSRTC JAC leaders held a meeting at employees’ union office here at Vidyanagar on Wednesday evening. Speaking to the media after the meeting, Ashwathama Reddy said that the High Court expressed confidence that the TSRTC management and the state government would play an ideal owner of employees. TSRTC enjoys goodwill in overseas as RTC employees contributed significantly to the organisation in terms of fuel efficiency, mileage and operations.

TSRTS runs 5,000 own buses and 2,100 buses on hire. Earlier, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao gave two deadlines to employees to report back. However, only about 1,300 employees resumed work. So far, 23 TSRTC employees committed suicide or died of other reasons during the 47 days of the strike.

During the Dussehra-Diwali festive season, TSRTC incurred a revenue loss of Rs 125 crore as it missed the core demand of the year. Besides, the average revenue loss for TSRTC was Rs 12 crore per day.

After TRS’ recent win in Huzurnagar by-election with a massive majority of 50,000 votes, the party supremo and chief minister further turned firm on the privatisation of RTC routes. KCR announced a formula of 50:30:20 for running TSRTC as it involves 50 per cent government buses, 30 per cent buses on hire and remaining 20 per cent buses of private carriage operators.

KCR decided to hire 3,100 buses on hire and grant stage carriage permits to 2,100 buses. The tender was notified, and the TSRTC received over 2,000 applications. TSRTC has a debt load of Rs 2,445 crore including Rs 1,595 crore from banks and Rs 850 crore with government security.

The CM earlier said that the condition of 2,100 buses is not good and there is a need to replace them. According to the CM’s plan, TSRTC will have 5,000 buses, and an equal number in private mode as the corporation will run in 50:50 ratio.

KCR, while giving the second deadline to employees, said that Telangana government hiked salaries by 67 per cent and regularised 4,700 staff. The government also released Rs 900 crore in just one year, and this will make the total financial support to Rs 4,500 crore in the past five years.

Dasari Sreenivasa Rao

Dasari Sreenivasa Rao is a freelance journalist with 26 years of mainstream media experience in Hyderabad and Dubai. He was Business Editor at The Pioneer and Spl Correspondent at Deccan Chronicle and The Hans India. Earlier, he worked for prestigious media brands including ToI, Indian Express (Bombay) and SPG Media and Business Standard in Hyderabad. NSE-qualified Dasari specializes in derivatives trading. He was visiting faculty at IGNOU and handled two batches of journalism students. Dasari is passionate about business journalism and always suggests all to practice rigorous meditation that ensures peace of mind and helps in moving up the value chain.

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