TSRTC Strike Called Off, Management Refuses to Accept Employees
Neither the TSRTC management nor the state government have acceded to any demand of the workers.
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The nearly two month old strike by TSRTC employees was called off on Monday, 25 November, a top trade union leader announced. However, the corporation said they cannot be allowed to rejoin duty as the matter is pending before the labour commissioner as per the directives of the High Court.
The TSRTC employees union’s Joint Action Committee (JAC) leader Aswathama Reddy said the decision to end the strike was taken to halt alleged attempts to ‘privatise’ the corporation.
He said that if the workers were not allowed to rejoin duty on Tuesday, their stir would continue and urged the government and RTC management not to create such a situation.
However, Telangana State Transport Corporation Managing Director Sunil Sharma termed the RTC JAC’s statement that workers would rejoin duty from Tuesday morning as ridiculous.
"On the one hand, they say they have called off the stir and will rejoin duty, while on the other they say they will continue the stir...The labour commissioner will take an appropriate decision on the RTC employees strike, as per the directives of the High Court. Accordingly, the RTC management will take an appropriate action,” he said.
He warned the workers not to create a law and order problem at RTC depots on Tuesday morning and not to obstruct temporary staff.
Sharma said it was not possible to take back the workers until the process prescribed by the High Court was concluded.
He said CCTV cameras have been installed at all depots and that the situation would be monitored. Any violation of law and order would not be tolerated by the government and RTC management, he said.
Sharma alleged that the workers went on strike thoughtlessly during the festival season, inconveniencing people.
Over 48,000 TSRTC employees went on an indefinite strike since 5 October, demanding among other things, merger of the corporation with the state transport department.
Later the unions said they were willing to drop the merger demand if it becomes a hurdle for the government to hold talks with them. However, neither the TSRTC management nor the state government have acceded to any demand of the workers.
‘Govt Tried to Weaken RTC & Employees’ Strike’
"...attempts are being made to privatize RTC; to stop and face this,whether the government responds or not,we should all go to (bus) depots tomorrow morning and bring pressure on the management towards taking up our duties,” Reddy told reporters.
He claimed that attempts were being made to issue a Government Order (GO), by taking up the matter with Governor, allowing private services. He alleged that the government tried to weaken the RTC and also the employees strike.
Reddy said the employees had achieved a ‘moral victory’ by going on strike and that they would continue their fight in a phased manner.
He demanded that the government refer the problems of the employees to the labour department. Reddy urged the temporary workers not to report for duty from Tuesday as the unions had called off the strike.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao called on Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan on Monday, official sources said. The RTC strike and other issues are understood to have figured in the meeting.
The state cabinet had on 2 November decided to privatise 5,000 RTC routes "to maintain healthy competition.” During their nearly two month long strike, actively supported by the Congress, BJP, the Left and other opposition parties, the employees had organised rallies, sit-ins and other forms of protest.
The Chief Minister had declared the strike illegal and affirmed that the RTC was not in a position to accept the demands of the employees as the Corporation was making losses.
With the High Court suggesting talks between the two sides to resolve the issue, the RTC management and unions held one round of talks, but the dialogue ended on a disappointing note following a disagreement over the agenda.
Some employees allegedly committed suicide during the stir period, while others reportedly died of heart attack. The unions had recently announced they were ready to set aside their main demand of merger of RTC with the government. They had also said they were ready to resume duties if the government created a congenial atmosphere for the purpose.
The government, however, had said it would take a final decision on the strike only after taking into consideration pending matters in high court and all other relevant issues.
On 22 November, the Telangana High Court had dismissed a petition, challenging the state cabinet decision to privatise over 5,000 bus routes. The court, while dismissing the petition challenging the cabinet's 2 November decision to privatise permits of 5,100 bus routes, said the state government is empowered to take a decision on the matter.
The Court had on 18 November directed the Commissioner of Labour to take a call on whether the strike should be referred to the Labour Court or not, in two weeks to decide the legality of the stir.
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