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TSRTC strike enters 45th day, call for Sadak Bandh on Tuesday

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on November 18, 2019 Published on November 18, 2019

 

As the strike by the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) enters its 45th day, there seems to be no solution in sight to the deepening woes of the Corporation’s nearly 48,000 employees.

The leaders of the Employees’ Union have climbed down on their demands, by withdrawing one -- the merger with State Government issue, but the Chief Minister, K Chandrasekhar Rao, has not budged from his hard stand that the striking employees should withdraw their strike and rejoin duty.

The issue has been engaging the High Court, which has been probing all aspects of the employees demands and the State Government’s responses over the past three weeks. One more round of hearing is on today.

The status of the TSRTC itself came into question, with the representative of the Centre saying that the Corporation was not recognised as the bifurcation issues between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were yet to be sorted out. Which implies that the APSRTC is the recognised Corporation.

The APSRTC, now under the Andhra Pradesh Government, was recently merged with the State department of transport by the Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy Government, much to the relief of the employees in the State. Encouraged by this, the TSRTC Union, too, had put forth a similar demand.

Experts on the ongoing struggle counter the Central Government representative’s view saying, “If that be the case, how come it has representation on the RTC board, and allocated electric buses by private operators through a tender process”.

State toughens stand

Meanwhile, the State Government toughened its stand over the weekend, by arresting two of the union leaders -- Ashwathama Reddy and Raj Reddy -- who were on a hunger strike and forcibly shifted them to Osmania General Hospital on Sunday.

At the same time, the Managing Director of the debt-ridden, loss-making TSRTC, informed the Courts that the Corporation will hire 1,035 new buses under a new Government okayed hiring scheme, to augment its services.

This is being seen as a move to weaken the strike. Though the Chief Minister warning to the employees to rejoin duties to save their jobs elicited a response from just 350 of the 48,000 strong staff, the government is no mood to budge.

Interesting, the Corporation has been encouraging private drivers to hire and run the buses on a daily basis. This has received a partial response, though instances of accidents and erratic services have been reported, according to sources.

Sadak Bandh

In the ‘battle of wits and patience’, the Joint Action Committee of political parties backing the employees extended their support for a State-wide ‘Sadak Bandh’ or Street Bandh on Tuesday.

One of the prominent leaders of the JAC, M Kodandaram has condemned the forcible shifting of the RTC leaders, who were on hunger strike, to the hospital and resorting to arrests of leaders to weaken the agitation and tomorrow’s Bandh.

He said, doctors had advised the union leaders to reconsider their indefinite hunger strike on health grounds. The JAC will review the situation in the evening and take a call, he added. The opposition parties have rallied behind their support for the bandh call on Tuesday.

Published on November 18, 2019
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