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Business News/ News / India/  KCR’s move to sack protesting transport employees draws flak

Workers’ unions of the Telangana State Road Transport Corp. (TSRTC) will challenge the state government’s decision to sack over 48,000 striking employees, as and when workers are served with dismissal or suspension notices, a union leader said on Monday.

Telangana Mazdoor Union president E. Ashwathama Reddy clarified that the agitating workers have not received any dismissal or suspension notice from the government or the management of the corporation. “There are laws in this country. We have been appointed as per rules. They cannot remove us just like that. We will approach courts if necessary," Reddy told PTI news agency.

Reddy is part of the joint action committee formed to bring all TSRTC unions under one umbrella.

The Telangana government headed by chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has sacked more than 48,000 transport workers in an unprecedented move, terming their over-two-day-old strike illegal and a blackmailing tactic.

Workers of the Telangana State Road Transport Corp. (TSRTC) have been on a strike since midnight Friday over a list of demands including merger of their company with the government and better pay. TSRTC operates as an autonomous body and pays taxes, operating costs like those for fuel to the states. The corporation feels merger with the state government will reduce their expenses and thus reduce loses.

Rao said on Sunday night that his government will not take them back into service and announced that a new recruitment drive will be carried out. The only other mass sacking at this scale occurred in 2003 when Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa sacked around 100,000 state government employees. However, she later took them back into service.

Rao who had issued an ultimatum to the roughly 50,000 protesting employees to report to work by 6pm on Saturday said that there “is no question of taking back the employees who have not joined duties before the deadline stipulated by the government".

KCR said there was no need for his government to dismiss anyone, as those employees of the TSRTC who did not show up for work on Saturday by 6 pm, were deemed to be self-dismissed.

KCR also clarified that the state government does not want to privatize the TSRTC.

The move, which has added to the distress of commuters and threatens to disrupt the lives of tens of thousands, drew widespread criticism from opposition parties, workers unions and the general public.

“BJP Telangana strongly condemns unilateral decision taken by CM KCR in dismissing 50,000 RTC employees," the state Bharatiya Janata Party unit said in a tweet. The Congress party said, “48,000 people have joined the ever expanding list of unemployed men and women in our country. Their only fault was to demand what was promised to them."

A.K. Padmanabhan, vice president of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions, said the state government made no attempt to negotiate with the striking workers before sacking them through a press statement. “Where is the formal order, can this stand the scrutiny of law? A former Union labour minister himself, CM KCR’s government is feudal in its behaviour. The protest is on and all unions will collectively strike back," said Padmanabhan.

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Updated: 07 Oct 2019, 11:17 PM IST
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