Telangana State Road Transport Corporation on Monday said the workers who called off the transport strike cannot be taken back till the state labour commissioner takes a decision, ANI reported. Over 48,000 employees called off their 52-day-long strike on Monday evening.

TSRTC Managing Director Sunil Sharma called the announcement by transport employees to rejoin work “ridiculous and unacceptable”. In a statement issued, he said: “Nowhere in any Public Sector Undertaking in the country do workers and employees abstain from duties and join their duties at their whims and fancies. It has never happened nor can it be accepted.”

Sharma said their strike caused immense inconvenience to the people and the workers abstained from duties on their own. He added that the management will act based on the directives of the labour commissioner, who will take a decision on the strike as directed by the Telangana High Court.

“Everything will be done in tune with the existing laws and acts,” Sharma said. “Till then, everyone should maintain restraint. Till the process as suggested by the High Court is completed, workers who are on illegal strike cannot be taken back on duties.”

“Workers have incurred losses by listening to the union’s words,” the managing director added. “Workers should not suffer further believing the words of the union. We request them not to go to the RTC depots tomorrow and create law and order issues.”

He said camera will be installed at all Road Transport Corporation depots and state government will not tolerate anyone disturbing law and order situation.

The RTC employees had launched the strike on October 5 with a list of 26 demands which includes merger of the corporation with the state government, job security to bus drivers and conductors, filling up of vacancies. Thousands of drivers, conductors, mechanics and other staff members did not attend duties, and it affected the public transportation system. The corporation then hired temporary drivers and conductors to continue the services.

The state government also gave two deadlines for the striking employees to rejoin duties, but only a few of them responded to it. The K Chandrasekhar Rao-led government has steadfastly refused to give in to the striking employees’ demands.

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.