Employees of the state-owned Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) on Friday decided to go ahead with the indefinite strike from midnight while the government has called the strike illegal and threatened to suspend those participating in it. Joint Action Committee (JAC) of various employees unions decided to go ahead with the strike after the talks with the three-member committee formed by the government failed to find a solution.
The JAC insisted on a written assurance on their main demand for merger of the TSRTC with the government but the panel comprising three IAS officials said they would go into the subject and submit a report to the government, which will take a final decision.
JAC leader Ashwathama Reddy said that 50,000 employees would participate in the strike. He asked the employees not to be scared by the government's threats to invoke Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) and suspend them. "ESMA and PD Act (Preventive Detention Act) are not new for RTC employees," he said.
He appealed to people to support their strike saying it is in the interest of the TSRTC, which offers transport services to people at affordable tariff.
Somesh Kumar, who is heading the panel, said despite their appeal to the unions not to inconvenience the people by going on strike during festival time, they did not relent.
The official told reporters that all alternate arrangements were in place to tackle the strike. They spoke to District Collectors and Superintendents of Police on the steps to be taken to deal with the situation to ensure that people are not inconvenienced.
TSRTC Managing Director Sunil Sharma, who is also a member of the panel, termed the strike illegal as public transport fall under ESMA. He said the TSRTC management has powers to dismiss from service the striking employees.
He said as part of the alternate arrangements to deal with the strike, the TSRTC will operate 2,100 hired buses with the help of 3,000 temporary drivers and other employees.
He said since the schools have Dasara holidays, 20,000 school buses will be operated by issuing them temporary permits.
Sharma said more vehicles would be pressed into service than 10,500 TSRTC buses.
Another panel member Ramakrishna Rao said the government has given Rs 3,303 crore to the TSRTC since formation of Telangana state in 2014. He claimed that the government released more money than the allocation made in the budget for last three years.
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