Karnataka transport workers’ strike: ESMA on the anvil, as talks between govt and unions appear bleak | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Having failed to elicit response from the striking transport department workers over the last one week, the Karnataka government is on the verge of enforcing the draconian Essential Services Management Act (ESMA) provisions over the weekend.
At the transport department officials meeting, which included the managing directors of the four corporations, the transport commissioner and the department principal secretary, the government has supposedly decided to give the striking transport department workers “one final chance”.
“If the workers fail to return to duty then we will be invoking the ESMA provisions in the next two days,” said one of the officials privy to the meeting.
Government officials suggest the government is standing firm this time round by not ready to budge an inch in this regard, as chief minister B S Yediyurappa has given clear directions to end the strike soon.
The government is hopeful that more of the employees will return to work soon after they saw a 100 per cent rise from yesterday in employees reporting to work.
While 200 employees attended work across the four transport corporations on Wednesday, as many as 380 people attended work on Thursday.
There are as many as 1.1 lakh workers in the four corporations who have gone on strike.
Soon after the meeting, transport principal secretary Anjum Parvez once again urged the striking KSRTC, BMTC, NEKRTC and NWKRTC workers to return to work without creating any more inconvenience to the common man.
“Having already agreed to all their demands previously, we are asking the unions and the workers to set aside the 6th pay commission wage demand that cannot be accepted. Come to the negotiating table without this demand and the government will try its best to accommodate. We urge the workers to come back and rejoin duty, at an institution which has been built and run by them,” said Parvez.
On the provisions of ESMA, Parvez said the act is already in force since December last year and the labour department has given them time till June before the provisions expire.
“We will take action, if and when it is required, under the act,” he said.
Alternatively, the department head said the government is already making arrangements by way of re-hiring retired drivers and conductors to tide over the present crisis.
According to Parvez, those being re-hired on contract basis will be tested for their eyesight and vision and will be only those who have retired two years ago from today.
It has also held talks with the transport departments of neighbouring states to increase the frequency of their state transport buses to Karnataka for ferrying people dependent on KSRTC in those states.
“All the states have been receptive to our request,” said Parvez, in specific with regard to Tamil Nadu that sees a vast number of buses travelling to the state.
Meanwhile, the government has said as many as 21,000 private buses and tempo travellers are plying on the streets of Karnataka and helping provide some respite to commuters.
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Sagar Biswas

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