Till a few days ago, K Chandrasekhar Rao had few friends among RTC employees. 48000 of them had been sacked en masse on day 2 of their strike on 6 October. The Telangana chief minister did not blink even when over 25 employees either died due to heart attack or committed suicide.
But three days after KCR asked the employees to get back to work without any conditions attached, he had them eating out of their hand, literally. He hosted a lunch for five employees from every depot in Telangana at his official residence and followed it with a host of sops that saw him doing a 180 degree turn from everything he had said before. Gone was the rancour that existed during the 52-day-long strike.
During the strike, KCR had said close to 50 per cent of the buses will be handed over to private operators and had mass dismissed all 48000 employees. His government informed the court that RTC had no money to pay salary for the month of September when the employees had worked before they started their strike from 5 October.
Today the Telangana chief minister said salaries will be paid not just for September but also for the duration of the strike. (Citizens of Telangana who had to spend much more while commuting by other means of transport would wonder if this is really fair). A job will be given to a family member of employees who either committed suicide or died of heart attack during the strike period, besides ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh. KCR even increased the retirement age from 58 to 60 years.
Showering sops, KCR promised allocation of Rs 1000 crore to the Telangana RTC every year and three months child care leave along with maternity leave.
The RTC employees will also undergo a sartorial change, in terms of the colour of their uniform. They were asked to choose a colour on their own.
What KCR has done is to ensure the employees through a new set of representatives will now have a direct line to his government. He has succeeded in weeding out the union leaders, conveying to the employees that he won’t do business with trade unionists. In fact, he indirectly referred to them as demons, while relating an anecdote from the Ramayana. The entire exercise has ended making both the employees and KCR happy, with the CM now gaining control and trust of the employees with his masterstroke of a U-turn.
And in return for all the sops, KCR has said there will be no elections to the recognised unions in the corporation for the next two years.