After a deadlock that lasted for close to two months, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said that the state government is willing to welcome back striking workers of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC).
“All of you can resume duties happily tomorrow,” KCR said after a Cabinet meeting that lasted for over three hours on Thursday.
Nearly 48,000 employees went on strike from October 5 to press for various demands, including the demand to merge the TSRTC with the government, which would give them the same benefits as state government employees.
The protest was being led by a Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the TSRTC employee unions. Around 25 employees of the corporation died during the period, some of whom took their own lives due to the crisis.
The Telangana Chief Minister said that the state government has decided to give Rs 100 crore to the RTC to temporarily mitigate the losses. KCR also proposed that he would personally meet five employees from each depot at Pragathi Bhavan, his residence in Hyderabad, to allay their fears.
KCR lashed out at the union leaders who were leading the strike, and said that they had ‘misled’ the employees.
“We care for the employees but not for the union leaders. We will give a job to the kin of the families who died. We will accommodate them either in the RTC or in some other department in the state government. We will definitely help them,” he said.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief also said that the TSRTC would increase the ticket prices to reduce TSRTC’s losses. Promising that the corporation would soon turn a profit, KCR said that the unions had to go.
“We will set up a ‘Workers Welfare Council’ with a senior minister in charge. We will fix a date and call for a meeting once a month. It is important that you should survive and your kin should also survive. The organisation belongs to you and not to the unions,” KCR said in the press meet, addressing the workers.
He also said that he would soon travel to New Delhi and meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discuss the issue with him.
On Monday, the JAC had announced that it was calling off the strike and asked the employees to resume work from Tuesday.
Hundreds of employees of the TSRTC were arrested across the state on Tuesday, as they attempted to rejoin duties after a 52-day long strike. Protests rocked TSRTC depots as the management refused to take back employees who reported to work following the decision of the JAC to call off the strike.
TSRTC Managing Director Sunil Sharma had earlier said that the decision by the employees to resume duties, who were on an ‘illegal strike’, was not legally tenable and asked them to wait till the Labour Commissioner completes the process of hearing their case.
TSRTC has not paid salaries to the employees for the months of September and October, causing distress to thousands of employees. The Chief Minister had not only rejected all the demands of the employees but also claimed that they dismissed themselves by abstaining from work illegally.
In a move that further angered the employees, the government announced that it was privatising 5,100 TSRTC buses. The High Court last week dismissed a petition challenging the government’s decision, and said that the government could go ahead with its plan. #KhabarLive