The state-wide strike in Karnataka by the government bus transport organisations continued for the third day today. Workers want their wages to be increased in line with the state's sixth pay commission, something the state government says is impossible now.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa appealed to the striking employyes to get back to work.
"I appeal to transport workers with folded hands. Don't listen to whatever people say and become stubborn. Despite the problems of the last year, when your department had no funds for salaries, we gave Rs. 2,300 crores. Siddaramaiah is giving wrong information," he said.
Siddaramaiah of the Congress, a former chief minister, has been attacking the BJP government in Karnataka on the issue of the strike.
"People of Karnataka are already suffering from the pandemic, and the ongoing strike by KSRTC employees has resulted in the further loss to the people," he said in a series of tweets.
"Inefficient and corrupt administration of @BJP4Karnataka governmentt is the only reason for this fiasco."
Mr Siddaramaiah said the "false promises" by the government led to stand-off between the transport corporation employees and the government.
Mr Yedirurappa talked of the difficulty being faced by the public, and said the state was in no position to hike wages to the extent demanded.
"Eight out of your nine demands have been agreed to. It is my duty to make sure that goes well," he said. "Please start running the buses from today. The public is suffering. The workers need to think if that is right. You must understand our state's financial position. Please cooperate, run the buses and stop the difficulty of the public."
"In this situation there is no question of being able to implement the sixth pay commission amount for them. I have clarified this many times but you are still being stubborn."
Due to the surge in Covid numbers in the state, protests and sit-ins are not being permitted. The employees had gone on strike a few months ago as well.
Private buses are on the roads in Karnataka, and are being encouraged by the state government to meet the needs of commuters.