Over 48,000 employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation called off their 52-day strike on Monday, The News Minute reported. The employees said they would be reporting back for duty at 6 am on Tuesday. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had earlier said that the employees were “self-dismissed” as they did not adhere to the deadline to return to work, which was November 5.
The employees’ Joint Action Committee leader Aswathama Reddy claimed the decision to end the strike was taken to halt attempts to privatise the corporation, PTI reported. “Attempts are being made to privatise RTC; to stop and face this, whether the government responds or not, we should all go to depots tomorrow morning and bring pressure on the management towards taking up our duties,” he told reporters in Hyderabad.
A letter written by the Joint Action Committee to the managing director of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation said the strike was being called off “with immediate effect”. It added that it hoped the state government and corporation management would “initiate favourable steps in this direction and permit the employees to resume their duties”.
Employees of the corporation had begun their strike on October 5, with a list of 26 demands. One of these demands was the merger of the corporation with the government, so that employees receive the same benefits. At present, the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation is an autonomous body.
However, when the government refused to budge, the demand was dropped. Till date, none of the demands of the employees have been accepted by the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led government.
“Despite restrictions and prohibitions, the strike was successful,” Aswathama Reddy claimed. “The government has acted recklessly and ruined the RTC. The moral victory is of labourers. Neither have the labourers lost, and nor has the government won.”
Reddy asked the temporary drivers of buses not to come to work on Tuesday. However, he warned that if the government did not take the employees back, they would intensify their strike.
“The hardships that the labourers and their families are going through is inexplicable,” Raji Reddy, the co-convener of the Joint Action Committee said. “The labourers will rejoin duty but this fight for protecting public transport will not stop.” At least 25 employees have died during the period of the strike, The News Minute reported.
On November 5, Rao had announced the privatisation of 50% of the state’s bus services. The state government counsel told the Telangana High Court that the employees on strike cannot be paid for the month of September because the corporation cannot dispense Rs 239 crore in salaries when it has less than Rs 10 crore in its coffers. The strike, they claimed, has caused the TSRTC a revenue loss of up to Rs 175 crore.