Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao in a complete U-Turn on the TSRTC strike has showered sops on the employees, assuring them that not a single private bus will be allowed on TSRTC routes. Three days after over 48,000 employees resumed their duties after 56-day-long strike, the Chief Minister assured them full job security saying not a single employee will be sacked. During an interaction with selected employees here, Rao announced that salaries for September will be paid on Monday while salaries for the strike period will also be paid subsequently.
It was a complete U-turn as only last month the Chief Minister had declared that over 48,000 employees dismissed themselves by going on illegal strike and not resuming duties before the expiry of the deadline set by the government. Fear of losing jobs drove at least five employees to commit suicide during the strike while some others died of cardiac arrest with union leaders linking this to depression caused by the government”s threats and non-payment of salaries. Going a step forward, the Chief Minister announced that the retirement age of the employees would be increased from 58 to 60 years. He also promised to absorb the contract workers into the Corporation. Five employees from each of the 97 RTC depots spread across the state attended the interaction held at Pragati Bhavan, the official residence of the Chief Minister. KCR, as Rao is popularly known, also hosted lunch for the invitees and enquired about their problems.
The interaction was seen by many as an attempt to isolate the leaders of employees” unions as KCR had blamed them for misleading the employees and pushing them in a state of uncertainty and the state-owned organization further deep into losses. About 50,000 employees had gone on strike on October 5 to press for 26 demands, the chief being TSRTC”s merger with the government. Terming the strike illegal, KCR not only rejected the demands but also refused to hold talks with them. About 1,500 employees had returned to duty on his appeal. The government adopted a tough stand, drawing criticism from the entire opposition, which backed the strike and series of protest programmes undertaken by the striking employees including state-wide shutdown.