Commuters were hit as about 52,000 employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC), led by the Telangana Mazdoor Union (TMU), began an indefinite strike on Saturday with a demand to merge TSTRC with the state government, owing to losses suffered by the corporation. The protest began at the risk of employees losing their jobs, which the state government said would happen if they don’t report to their duties by 6 pm on Saturday.
The indefinite strike comes just three days prior to Dussehra, and is likely to impact thousands of people from city, who would have otherwise travelled back home to their villages for the festival. E. Ashwathama Reddy, chairman of the joint action committee (JAC) of the Telangana RTC employees and unions said that the strike will continue till the governments meets their demands.
Ridership of the Hyderabad metro rail (HMR) doubled. HMR managing director N. V. S Reddy said that at 10 am on Saturday, there were 1,00,000 entries (at stations) as against the normal 50,000, and that 810 metro trips were planned for the day, 100 more than normal.
“The start government should merge the TSRTC with its, as chief minister KCR (K Chandrashekhar Rao) had promised to do this long ago. The state imposes various taxes on the corporation, due to which it suffers a lot of losses, and does not give any funds. That is why the corporation has been suffering,” Reddy added.
“RTC employees have been given time till 6 pm on Saturday. If they don’t join their duties, they will be deemed to have given up their jobs on their own and there is no question of taking them back into the services,” a statement from chief minister’s office said, after an emergency meeting was held by KCR post his return from Delhi late in the night on Saturday.
Local TV channels on Saturday reported that buses were confined to depots in several parts of the Telangana with TSRTC employees locking up the gates and staging protests in front of bus stations. The state government had also formed a committee comprising IAS officers, including transport secretary Sunil Sharma, to look into the issue earlier this week.
The committee held talks with the striking unions, but still hit an impasse, as the unions refused to roll back their main demand of merging the TSRTC with the state government. The committee, while maintaining that there could be an amicable solution to this problem, had earlier also asked the employees not to go on strike.
It is to be seen how KCR responds, and whether the state government terminates the jobs of TSRTC employees.