The 11-day strike of 48,000 employees of TSRTC is intensifying with no breakthrough in sight, and with Telangana CM KCR unrelenting, the employees now plan to approach the HC.
TRS Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Keshava Rao had attempted to mediate between the striking employees and the Telangana government but his offer was brushed aside by the TSRTC unions saying the Rao is not even part of the government so his assurances and appeal for ending protest is hollow.
Meanwhile, Advocate Karuna Sagar filed a complaint against KCR as well as Transport Minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar on charges of abetment of suicide of TSRTC driver Srinivas Reddy. The complaint was lodged at the Kanchanbagh police and has been forwarded to Khammam II Town. Sagar told ANI that ‘TSRTC driver D Srinivas Reddy depressed after losing his job and attempted self-immolation at his residence situated in Khammam District by pouring petrol on himself.’ So far five deaths have been attributed to the ongoing strike, two of the protestors immolated themselves and three suffered.
The unions of TSRTC employees led by the joint action committee (JAC) have demanded salary hikes alleging that there has been no revision of pay packages since 2017. The JAC also demands that the corporation should be merged with the state government. In addition, they have asked for the long-vacant positions to be filled up to bolster the fleet as well as the reduction of tax on diesel.
In lieu of the mass strike by RTC employees, the corporation had offered Rs 1,500 to drivers Rs 1,000 to conductors who were willing to work on a temporary basis until the deadlock ends. But since the announcement was made, high rate of desertion has been witnessed as temp employees have been complaining of threats by the striking employees as well as bad condition of the buses. More importantly, the temp employees claim that the corporation has been often paying almost half of the promised wage and is unyielding despite all parameters being achieved.
The protests are not limited to the 48,000 employees but their families, relatives, and friends too have joined in, rapidly eroding the image of Telangana CM KCR. Many of the protesting unions had supported the KCR-led Telangana agitation and stood side-by-side with the TRS. But now they are employing similar methods of protest against the poster boy of the Telangana movement and the incumbent CM, KCR. His steely warning asking all the protestors to return to work has made no dent in the determination and the intensity of the protest.
As the deadlock continues, across Telangana, ‘rasta roko’ in depots to strengthen their agitation. Supporting the blockage were employees organisations, women's organisations, other trade unions teachers, and political parties too.