Karnataka govt may invoke Esma if transport staff don’t end stir in 2 days | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: The Karnataka government is planning to invoke the Essential Services Management Act (Esma) against road transport corporation employees who have been on an indefinite strike since Wednesday and declined to come for talks on their demand for higher wages.
“If workers don’t return to duty over the next two days, we’ll have no choice but to take tough measures” said an official privy to the developments. The move to enforce Esma was considered at a meeting on Thursday under the chairmanship of the transport secretary to review the situation.
Esma empowers the government to punish employees who refuse to serve in essential sectors which include healthcare, transport, electricity, food, drinking water and security.
Govt: Come back to negotiating table
Officials at the meeting, which included managing directors of the four transport corporations, said the government is firm about its stance. With some employees returning to work, the government hopes the strike will fizzle out in a couple of days. On Wednesday, about 200 employees attended work across four transport corporations and on Thursday, 380 reported for duty. About 1.1 lakh workers are on strike.
Anjum Parvez, principal secretary, transport department, urged striking workers to return to work. “We have agreed to eight of the nine demands. Please set aside the 6th Pay Commission wage demand which cannot be accepted now and come to the negotiating table,” said Parvez.
He said ESMA has been in force since last December and the labour department has given them time till June before the provisions expire. “We’ll take action under the Act when required,’’ he said.
The government on Wednesday has requested neighbouring Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to increase the frequency of their state transport buses to Karnataka. “All states have been receptive to our request,” said Parvez.
Officials also said the government has introduced 21,939 private buses and maxi cabs on various RTC bus routes, including some in Bengaluru.
The government, in consultation with South Western Railway, has been running 18 special trains to Mysuru, Belagavi, Kalaburagi, Karwar, Vijayapura and Shivamogga from Bengaluru till April 14. The frequency of Metro trains in peak hours has been reduced from 10 minutes to 4.5 minutes.

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Sagar Biswas

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