RTC unions ready to call off strike

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on November 20, 2019

A file photo of a bus depot in Hyderabad. Employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation, led by the Telangana Mazdoor Union, began an indefinite strike on October 5 Nagara Gopal

The 47-day-old strike by the 48,000 strong employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) has reached the end stage with the Joint Action Committee (JAC) deciding to call it off, if the State government ‘unconditionally’ allows the employees to resume duty.

After ‘hectic and thorough’ discussions with all the concerned and in the light of the High Court directive to refer the matter for resolution in two weeks, the JAC has in a statement said “The government and Corporation should ensure restoration of work rules before the strike and not impose any conditions”. Based on this assurance, the staff will join duty immediately, it said.

The move by the JAC, backed by the opposition political parties in a way is a victory for the State government, which had not budged from its stand. The Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had earlier asked the employees to give up their protest and join duty immediately or else face losing their jobs. The government was also in no mood to concede their demands right from day one of the Strike launched on October 5.

The Government and Corporation put up a stiff defence of their stand in the High Court too. They argued that the Corporation was in huge debts, loss making and could not even pay salaries. Therefore, it needed urgent remedial measures and strike was non-negotiable. It did not even agree to holding discussions.

The JAC did marshal lot of support from the political parties, various unions of the TSRTC and the ‘strength and patience’ of its employees across the State. The employees steadfastly participated in a variety of protests and stayed away from work. A few hundred, who joined duty on the call of KCR, too rejoined the strike. The death of more than a dozen employees during the course of the strike too did not deter the resolve, though the employees were put to hardships with no salary for nearly three months. With little headway, the JAC took back one of the demands of merger with the government transport department, but that too did not cut ice with the Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, the Corporation was making arrangements of hiring buses and employing private drivers to run services on some routes. Talks of partial privatisation were also making the rounds. It cracked down on the JAC leaders on indefinite fast and moved them to hospital.

The High Court directive to refer the matter to the Labour Commissioner to settle the issue proved to be the clincher in pushing the JAC and employees to give up the strike. Its a matter of days, before the fate of the longest strike in the history of the Road Transport Corporation, which has roots in the Nizam’s era is decided.

Published on November 20, 2019

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