TSRTC employees drop merger demand with KCR not softening stand

The Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) striking employees have temporarily kept aside their main demand for the Corporation’s merger with the government with the latter not bowing down in its stand. On the 41st day of the strike, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the striking employees decided to drop the merger demand for now and offered to hold talks with the government on other demands. JAC convenor Ashwathama Reddy made the announcement after discussing the future course of action with leaders of various opposition parties and trade unions.

He blamed the government for the death of 23 employees during last 41 days. He said the government even rejected the High Court’s suggestion for a committee of three retired judges of the Supreme Court to help resolve the standoff. Reddy alleged that K. Chandrasekhar Rao government is trying to suppress the strike by resorting to large scale arrests. He demanded that all those who were arrested across the state be released immediately. The JAC’s announcement came on a day when a striking employee died of depression while another was hospitalised after suffering cardiac arrest. A driver had committed suicide on Wednesday.

More than 48,000 employees of TSRTC have been on strike since October 5 to press for 26 demands, the main being the merger of TSRTC with the government so that they are treated on par with the government employees. However, the government termed the strike illegal, rejected the merger demand and ruled out talks with the employees. After the High Court’s intervention, TSRTC officials held a round of talks with JAC leaders on some demands excluding the merger demand. It, however, failed to end the impasse. The government also did not accept the High Court’s suggestion to release Rs 47 crore to meet few demands to end the stalemate, saying this would not help resolve the problems in TSRTC which is deep into financial crisis.

Further hardening its stand, the government decided to allow private operators to operate buses on 5,100 or half of TSRTC routes. On a petition challenging the government’s decision, the High Court on Thursday extended the stay till November 18.