After 55 days of relentless strike, 49,000 workers of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) resumed work on Friday after CM K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) urged them to do so while announcing Rs 100 crore infusion into TSRTC. The state government also announced to give financial assistance and a job per family of those workers who lost their lives during the strike period.
However, the CM continued to call the strike ‘illegal’, blaming the union leaders who have led the strike. “Workers have fallen into the trap of unions and opposition parties and risked their livelihoods. They need to realise the facts and not resort to such acts in the future,” said CM KCR in a press conference on Thursday evening, after convening a Cabinet meeting on the matter.
The state government stated that the bus ticket fares will be increased to generate an estimated income of upto Rs 760 crore per year. Meanwhile, the government also announced to infuse another Rs 571 crore for repairing roads.
The Joint Action Committee of the workers’ union that led the protest has welcomed CM KCR’s decision. “The TSRTC strike will remain historic one in the country’s history. Female conductors and workers have taken many responsibilities in the strike,” said JAC convenor Aswathama Reddy while speaking to to Eenadu newspaper on Thursday. On CM’s criticism about unions, Reddy said that nobody could undermine the power of unions which are a core part of the system.
It is to be noted that the state government has ridiculed the strike since the beginning despite a legitimate set of demands (which was acknowledged by the High Court), massive shortage of public transport system. The workers were not even called for negotiations.
On November 18, the state high court ordered the state’s labour commissioner and the labour court to decide on the legitimacy of the strike and subsequently, the JAC called off the strike on the following day. On November 20, when the workers went to rejoin their work in their respective bus depots, they were denied entry into the premises and were detained by the police.
The strike that began on October 5 was taken forward in a peaceful manner with various forms of demonstrations including rallies, hunger strikes, and state-level dawn-to-dusk sadak bandh.
According to news reports, nearly 25 workers, including several members of the workers’ families lost their lives due to suicides and heart attacks—all worried over loss of jobs.
The demands of the workers include merger of TSRTC with the government, revision of their salaries, better working conditions, allowance to female and retired workers among others.
The state government has come under major criticism as student organisations, other employees unions, civil society and opposition political parties including Congress, CPI(M), CPI, Telangana Jana Samithi came forward in support of the protesting public transport workers.
While the state government has earlier mooted privatisation of TSRTC, it appears that the proposal has been kept aside for now.