Karnataka: Road transport employees to continue indefinite strike | Bengaluru News – Times of India


Transport department employees observed hunger strike on Sunday at Freedom Park.

BENGALURU: Following drama and hours of negotiations, transport employees have decided to continue their strike which will enter its fourth day on Monday.
The decision on Sunday evening comes following the government’s reluctance to fulfill the employees’ primary demand of being brought under the state government payroll.
The representatives of over 1.2 lakh protesting employees belonging to four state-run bus corporations, including KSRTC and BMTC on Sunday agreed to a truce after the state government’s assurance of looking into the majority of their demands.
Deputy chief minister Laxman Savadi, who also holds the transport portfolio, even announced that bus services across the state would resume on Sunday night.
Following negotiations, Chandrashekhar, a leader of the protesting group of employees who participated in the talks at Vidhana Soudha, thanked the government, offering the impression that an amicable agreement had been arrived upon.
Few depots across the state even resumed bus services immediately after the final meeting at around 6.30pm.
The situation, however, changed quickly once Chandrashekhar reached Freedom Park where the protesting employees were staging a hunger strike since Sunday morning.
An overriding majority of workers gathered at the venue refused to back down on their demand of being offered the privileges, incentives and status of state government employees. With both sides refusing to relent, the deadlock now continues.
Earlier, the government had agreed to meet most of the demands put forth by the striking employees except that of bringing them under government payroll.
“We have made it clear that the government cannot consider the demand of imparting government employees tag to the RTC employees. The government is not in a position to convert the employees of any board or corporation into government employees given the Covid-induced economic slowdown. However, we have agreed to meet most of the demands and they have agreed to call off the strike. Buses will start plying from Sunday night,” said Savadi.
Among the demands the government agreed to meet were hiking salary in accordance with the 6th pay commission’s recommendation, withdrawal of not-issued-not-collected (NINC) cases filed against conductors for not issuing ticket to commuters, Arogya Sanjeevini health insurance cover for all employees, Rs 30 lakh ex-gratia for the families of those who succumbed to Covid-19, reduction in training period for newly-recruited employees from two years to one year, setting up of committee to address the complaints about harassment by higher officials at depot level and introduction of HRMS to automate the HR department.
On Sunday, Savadi convened a series of meetings with union leaders, agitating employees and transport officials separately. Home minister Basavaraj Bommai, revenue minister R Ashoka and BMTC chairman N S Nandiesha Reddy took part in the talks and Savadi briefed chief minister BS Yediyurappa about the outcome of the talks and sought his approval for the demands.
Since Friday, a majority of buses run by the state-run corporations have not been operational, crippling public transport across the state. KSRTC and BMTC operated skeletal services under police protection over the last three days.
Lakhs of passengers are stranded at bus stations across the state due to the strike. There are also several complaints against auto rickshaw drivers fleecing passengers.
Farmers protesting the new farm laws too have extended their support to the transport staff. Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha president Kodihalli Chandrashekar led the protest.

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Sagar Biswas

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