In one of the biggest layoffs in independent India, 48000 employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) have been shown the door. They were on strike since Saturday and chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had asked them to get back to work in order to avoid being given the pink slip. The threat of dismissal did not quite have the desired effect, resulting in the sack orders.
The transport unions are demanding a merger of the TSRTC with the Telangana government, on the lines of what has been done in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh but the CM has said a flat No. They also want an increase in salaries but KCR feels an average salary of Rs 50000 at TSRTC is good enough. They also want better working conditions and more recruitment.
The government has pointed to the corporation running in losses. TSRTC losses are to the tune of Rs 1200 crore with another Rs 5000 in debt.
With the government and the unions not seeing eye to eye, KCR refused to blink first.
“The unions have committed a grave mistake by resorting to strike during the Dussehra season and blackmailing tactics,” KCR was quoted as saying during the meeting he had with transport officials. The CM believes putting commuters to inconvenience amounts to indiscipline and wants to use this opportunity to press the reset button on TSRTC. This includes hiring new employees with a condition being laid that they will not resort to any trade unionism. TSRTC will also go in for part privatisation.
With the purge, there are just about 1200 employees left at TSRTC now. On Sunday, the government managed to run about 3300 of its fleet of 10500 RTC buses with the help of drivers engaged from outside. To meet the festival rush, it also pressed into service another 2000 hired buses. Private buses were of course, meeting the bulk of the demand, plying over 6000 buses.