Was it overconfidence on the part of the government or did it not make any serious exercise in the last one month on various aspects including legal issues so that its “historic” decision to declare about 48,000 striking RTC employees as non-entities does not fall flat and ensure that it does not have to take a ‘U’ turn? Did it calculate how much money it will have to pay to the employees towards their full and final settlement presuming that the courts would uphold the government stand?
Sacking over 48,000 employees and that too with oral instructions and putting over one crore bus users to great inconvenience certainly cannot be considered good governance. While the decision of the employees’ union to go on strike during festival time has undoubtedly caused great inconvenience to all those who were going to their native places during Dasara and those who now need to come back to their places of work, the government’s adamant attitude in the name of creating history and getting rid of a “malaise” called trade unions has added to the woes of the common man.
A close observation of the way the issue is being handled clearly indicates that all those who have been advising or briefing the Chief Minister on the ground situation are not aware of the realities since they do not travel by public transport. At the official meetings they come with statistics of the number of temporary drivers recruited and buses operated etc and present a 3D colour cinema. The officials who are supposed to aid and advise the Chief Minister with exact situation, it appears, have either failed to assess the situation or are intentionally hiding the real facts. It leaves one to wonder are we deep into “Yes Boss” syndrome?
Does anyone know that to travel about 15 kms, one has to change four share autos and spend about Rs 170 one way to reach their destination. But then, who cares? The Chief Minister and his Ministers claim that the strike is illegal and the demands of the unions are not realistic. They also say that the unions’ attitude had not changed over last four decades irrespective of whosoever was in power. Agreed. But then, can the government take unilateral decision to sack thousands of employees in one go without following the due process? Is it a wise step to push the families of these 48,000 employees on to the roads?
The State government claims that the government or the corporation has powers to terminate such striking employees. Some lawyers support this argument while others feel that this will not stand legal scrutiny and they quote the case of Tamil Nadu where Supreme Court had ordered that all the sacked RTC employees be taken back when Jayalalithaa was the Chief Minister. Some clarity on this will come when the High Court is expected to give its decision. It now appears that the government was utilising the TSRTC strike as a golden opportunity to win public sympathy painting the unions as villains and go in for privatisation of the corporation in a phased manner.
Even if we agree for argument’s sake that sacking of RTC employees will be upheld by courts and that the unions are villains, will privatisation help the common man? When in a city like Hyderabad it becomes difficult to get a cab from Dindigul to the heart of the city just because it is not viable route, will the private operators run buses like Palle Velugu to rural areas? Even if the government lays down that as a condition? One should agree with the Chief Minister that strike is not good. But then Sir, when the State was brought to a standstill during Sakalajanula Samme during the Telangana agitation, was it not these very unions which had struck work? Did the TRS not praise their services to the sky and asked people to bear the suffering? The government may say that they wanted to be tough with employees. Fine, but was there no way to resolve the issue? #KhabarLive