Telangana bus strike: TSRTC union leaders rubbish KCR’s private permits threat2 min read . Updated: 25 Oct 2019, 05:01 PM IST
KCR chief minister on Thursday said that he will decide the fate of the TSRTC in the next five to six days
HYDERABAD : A day after Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao lashed out against unions of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) and said that he would decide the fate of the TSRTC in the next five to six days, TSRTC union leaders hit back and rubbished his statements, stating that they will not back down and call-off the ongoing indefinite strike which began on 5 October.
On Thursday, at a press conference, Rao also reiterated that the TSRTC cannot be merged with the state government, one of the demand put forth by the unions, even as the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh literally took the step (a government order was passed) on the same day, which the union leaders pointed out. “If they can do it there, then why not here? KCR (Rao) said some very upsetting things," said Thomas Reddy, a union leader from the Telangana Mazdoor Union (TMU).
Thomas Reddy, who is also a co-convener of the joint action committee (JAC) formed by the TSRTC unions, said that it is the duty of the state government to ensure that the state-run buses operate smoothly, as it is a private service. “About 2,500-odd TSRTC buses need to be replaced immediately, so why is he not doing that? Instead, the TSRTC is paying the state government taxes every year," added the union leader.
KCR chief minister on Thursday said that he will decide the fate of the TSRTC in the next five to six days, and that all he needs to sign an order to give private vehicles permits to operate on TSRTC routes. “Let him do it and see who comes forward. Let us see which private operator runs his buses in Hyderabad, and incurs losses. Telangana does not have a good railway connectivity, and hence buses are the lifeline of public transport," Thomas Reddy said, while addressing a press conference.
He added that instead of talking about states which do not have state-run buses, KCR should look at Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra which have the same. “The TSRTC unions are going to continue their indefinite strike. The chief minister must call us an discuss the matter. You can tell us what you want to say, and you must hear us as well," he added.
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.