From Our Special Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network
Bengaluru, Apr 7: With the bus drivers and conductors and other staff of the different State-owned Road Transport Corporations in Karnataka along with those of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) resorting to indefinite strike on wage related demands from Wednesday, public life and public transport in the State capital and other cities across the State was badly hit.
Despite the State Government’s assurances that alternative arrangements are being made, commuters in the city and all over the State suffered heavily as they were unable to travel from their homes to workplaces or other destinations.
In Bengaluru, there were very few private buses being deployed in the bus depots. The few private buses and tempos that were operating, were found to be charging heavily to fleece the commuters while the private taxies, cabs and Ola or Uber cab services as well as auto rickshaws were making merry at the cost of the citizens.
The employees of the State Road Transport Corporations, especially of KSRTC, NWRTC, NERTC and BMTC, who have given a call for indefinite strike from Wednesday across the State under the banner of Karnataka State Transport Employees League demanding that the State Government must implement the salary payments as per the 6th Pay Commission recommendations, which has been strongly opposed by the State Government.
B S Yediyurappa, Basavaraj Bommai and P Ravikumar
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, while appealing the workers to give up their strike, made it clear that the State Government has fulfilled 8 out of the 9 demands notwithstanding the slowdown in the economy.
Yediyurappa has urged the employees to listen to reason in the interests of the people as all have to protect the interests of the general public. ``The State Government will be left with no other alternative than take tough measures and invoke provisions of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA),’’ he warned.
State Chief Secretary P Ravikumar said the employees need to follow the Covid guidelines and restrictions and were liable to be subjected to stringent action. The State Government is not in a position to accept the demand of the striking employees to be treated on par with the State Government employees and paid as per the 6th Pay Commission scales cannot be accepted, he said.
The State Government has already agreed to pay an 8% increase in salaries to the RTC and BMTC employees as an interim relief even while refusing to pay salaries as per the 6th Pay Commission report, which however could not be implemented in view of the model code of conduct now in operation in different districts due to the ongoing assembly and lok sabha by-elections.
Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who is also the State’s Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, speaking to reporters in Humnabad of Bidar district on Wednesday appealed to the striking bus employees to call off their strike in the interests of the travelling public.
In spite of the tough revenue positions and decline in revenues, with buses being forced to stay off the road during the Covid related lockdowns, the State Government has not cut the salaries while in many other States there have been reductions and cuts. While he personally agrees that the salaries need to be revised, all these demands can be considered in the course of time, he said.
The Home Minister said Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, Deputy Chief Minister and Transport Minister Laxman Savadi and the senior government officials will discuss with the leaders and representatives of the striking bus employees after the ongoing by-elections.
“As many as one crore people, college and school-going children are travelling in the public transport vehicles. Lakhs of workers also have to go their workplaces. The strike must be called off in the interest of the general public,’’ he added.
Bommai also claimed that BJP candidate Sharanu Salagar will win with a record margin in the Basavakalyan assembly by-election.
He said BJP candidate Mangala Angadi, wife of late Union Minister Suresh Angadi, will also win from the Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency as was evident in the lakhs of people who attended Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s rally.