Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who held a high-level meeting of officials of the transport department late Sunday evening, announced that the RTC now had only 1,200 employees.
In a sensational move, the Telangana government on Sunday announced dismissal of 48,000-odd employees and workers of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) from service, after they launched an indefinite strike demanding solution to their long-pending problems.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who held a high-level meeting of officials of the transport department late Sunday evening, announced that the RTC now had only 1,200 employees, including those who did not join the strike and others who returned to their duties before 6 pm on Saturday, a deadline fixed by the government for the unions to call off their strike.
Around 49,340 employees and workers of the RTC have been on strike following a call given by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Telangana RTC employees and workers’ unions since the early hours of Saturday.
The employees have been demanding, among other things, merger of RTC with the state government as was done in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, where they are being treated as government employees with their retirement being enhanced to 60 years.
They are also demanding revision of their salaries pending since April 2017. They want fresh recruitment in the corporation to reduce the workload on the employees.
According to an official release from the CMO after the high-level meeting, the chief minister said all the employees who had not returned to the duties by Saturday evening were deemed to have lost their jobs.
“There is no question of holding any negotiations with the removed employees and taking them back into the duties. They have committed a major crime by resorting to strike at a time when the RTC was incurring a loss of Rs 1200 crore and facing a debt burden of Rs 5,000 crore, besides suffering from ever-increasing diesel prices. Moreover, striking the work during the festive season is an unpardonable crime,” he said.
The chief minister also categorically ruled out merger of RTC with the state government. “We are not going to succumb to any blackmailing by the employees’ unions. We don’t allow any sort of indiscipline in the institution forever,” he declared.
KCR announced that the government would start the exercise soon to recruit new staff for the RTC and the process would be completed at the earliest. “The new recruits would have to work on probation for certain period and they should give an undertaking that they would not join any employees’ unions,” he said.
Describing it as a new chapter in the history of Telangana RTC, KCR indicated partial privatisation of public transport. He said private bus operators would be brought into the RTC to work as a public-private partnership.
“Hereafter, half of the RTC fleet would be private buses. They would given permits to operate as stage carriers (can stop all at stages, instead of being operated only between two points),” he said.
As an immediate measure, KCR ordered that 2,500 buses be taken on lease and permissions be given to 4,114 private buses to support the public transport. He directed the authorities to restore normalcy within 15 days and expressed confidence that within two to three years, the RTC would be back into profits.
The chief minister also appointed a committee to study the revamping of the RTC in the state and submit a report to the government at the earliest.