It has been nine days since the strike by the 48000-odd employees of the Telangana State Road Transport corporation (TSRTC) have been on strike. But one person who may have had some kind of a hold over the striking unions and can help in nudging them to arrive at a compromise, has been maintaining pindrop silence.
He is Telangana Finance minister and chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s nephew Harish Rao. Till January this year, Harish was the President of the Transport Mazdoor Union, one of the prominent unions in the TSRTC. The Union had been floated during the Telangana agitation to ensure the RTC employees took part in the struggle. It had played an important part in the 2011 Sakala Sammala Janne (All People’s strike) with RTC employees under Harish’s leadership in the forefront of the strike.
In his resignation letter to Ashwathama Reddy, who is leading the October 2019 strike, Harish Rao had said he wanted time to attend to other matters and therefore was resigning. The move had raised eyebrows because in January, Harish was not even a minister. Incidentally, KCR’s daughter Kavitha too resigned from her posts in the unions at Singareni Colleries, suggesting that the orders may have come from the top.
Given that communication between the government and the striking unions has completely broken down, two employees have died due to shock of losing their jobs and one driver is fighting for his life after setting himself on fire, many wonder why Harish Rao’s rapport with the union leaders is not being put to use to achieve a breakthrough. KCR has said whoever is employed hereafter at RTC will have to give an undertaking that he will not take part in any strike, leading many to wonder if the CM wants to dismantle the labour unions completely in all public sector undertakings.
Meanwhile, the public suffers with lack of transport. The government unable to resolve the issue has asked the Education department to extend vacation for school and junior college students till 20 October.