K’taka gives written assurance to striking transport employees
Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Monday gave a written assurance to the striking employees of the state-owned transport corporations about fulfilling nine of their ten demands.
The employees have been on strike since Friday and are expected to call off their strike now. Of the ten demands, the only one refused by the state government was to consider them as government employees.
The flash protest called by the employees on Friday by stopping the buses of all four transport corporations in the state had entered the fourth day on Monday.
Though the state government had agreed to most of their demands on Sunday itself, the employees made a late night “U” turn and stuck to their ground that a minister must come and hand over the “written assurance” to them before they withdrew their protest.
This demand turned out to be an “ego battle” between the employees and the government representatives.
Finally, Chief Minister Yediyurappa after a meeting with officials, directed Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation Chairman Nandish Reddy to hand over the written assurance to the employees at Freedom Park where the protestors had launched the sit-in protest.
Deputy Chief Minister Lakshman Savadi along with Revenue Minister R. Ashoka and Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai together held a series of meetings with the employee representatives for the last two days and were able to seal the deal.
The Karnataka transport department has about 37,019 employees and runs a fleet of 17,138 buses through four subsidiaries, including Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), North East Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) and North West Road Transport Corporation (NWRTC).
Of the total fleet, BMTC has 6,500 buses, KSRTC 5,500 buses and the remaining are with the other two corporations (NEKRTC and NWRTC).
The road transport behemoth operates services in cities, towns and villages across the southern state and inter-state services to all five neighbouring states — Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
The sudden strike since Thursday disrupted public transport, forcing thousands of commuters to use private buses or other transport across the state.
With all the four corporations reeling under huge losses due to the lockdown and the guideline to carry only 50 per cent passengers of the total bus capacity to ensure social distancing, salaries to the employees were delayed over the months till November.
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha president Kodihalli Chandrashekar was leading the strike for a section of the employees. The state government, however refused to talk to him saying that he was a farmer and had nothing to do with road transport.