After the strike began on 5 October, KCR had said that all the 48,000-plus employees
The chief minister categorically stated that everything will be solved once he gives permits to private buses
The fate of the Telangana State Road Transportation Corporation (TSRTC) will be decided in the next five to six days, said Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) on Thursday. KCR lashed out against union leaders of the TSRTC for leading an “illegal" strike since 5 October, resulting in state-run buses staying off roads from 20 days as over 48,000 employees of the TSRTC have been abstaining from work.
“I don’t even need a cabinet meeting for it, I can just do it with a signature. I will take a decision in the next five to six days with regard to giving private buses permits across the state to ease the situation. If the TSRTC works without any unions, they (employees) will also get bonus. They (unions) are playing with peoples lives," said KCR while addressing a press conference on Thursday at Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s party office. The chief minister categorically stated that everything will be solved once he gives permits to private buses.
“I am very sorry, nobody can save (TS)RTC. The management is very good, the problem is with the unions. We will give permits, and everything will be fine, and all the issues will be solved. They will give better service than the RTC itself," KCR said. He added that other states like Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh have shut down the state-run bus operations. “Who was the chief minister in Madhya Pradesh? It was Digvijaya Singh," he pointed out.
After the strike began on 5 October, KCR had said that all the 48,000-plus employees who participated in the strike will be considered as “self-dismissed" and in a statement later called the strike “illegal and authorized". However, the employees never received official notices stating the same. On his instructions, the TSRTC management has been hiring temporary drivers and private buses to run its operations (TSRTC has 10,000 plus buses).
Among the demands of the TSRTC unions are salary hikes (due since 2017 according to the JAC) and merger of the TSRTC with the state government (which KCR categorically said is not feasible). Moreover, on 22 October, a statement from KCR’s office had also claimed that it will conduct talks with unions as they had given up on the demand of the merger. However, a day later TSRTC unions denied it, and said that the indefinite strike will continue unless that demand is also considered.
On Thursday, KCR also said that the unions are going to be the end of the TSRTC itself. “Before Mumbai, Calcutta was the financial hub, which had jute mills and a textile industry. The CPM (Communist Party of India-Marxist) government came to power and killed everything. Today there is not a single jute mill or textile industry there today. Same thing will be the fate of TSRTC," the Telangana chief minister asserted.
He once again claimed that the average salary of an TSRTC employee is Rs.50,000, something which many employees of the organization (who have been working for years) denied. Many of them have even brought their salary slips to show otherwise, during protests which have been going on in bus depots across the state since 5 October.