Employees of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) in 13 Seemandhra districts have called of their 60-day old strike, following fruitful talks with transport minister Botcha Satyanarayana on Friday night.
Over 60,000 employees of 123 depots in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions have been on strike since August 12 demanding the Centre to withdraw the proposed bifurcation of the state.
Botcha Satyanarayana held talks with Employees’ Union and National Mazdoor Union and convinced them to call off the strike.
Later speaking to newsmen, Botcha said: ‘’We have assured them that chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy and other cabinet ministers will pursue the issue further. We have also assured to take measures to strengthen the APSRTC and had agreed to many of their demands. On our request, they have agreed to call of their strike,’’ he explained.
The talks on Friday centred around the demand for the merger of Road Transport Corporation (RTC) with the government and make it a government department for job security of RTC employees and financial stability of the RTC itself. Though the government had issued a governmemt order (GO) on Thursday after first round of negotiations between the employees’ unions and transport minister, on Friday it was amended and the sentence ‘Merger of RTC with state government’ was included.
Principal Secretary (Transport) D Lakshmi Parthasarathy, though sick, was called to the Bus Bhavan to issue the fresh GO with necessary amendments. However, NMU was not satisfied with wording of the fresh GO and non-inclusion of IAS officers as members of the committee constituted to study different aspects of the merger and financial issues. After several hours of negotiations, the transport minister agreed to issue another GO with necessary amendments.
EU general secretary K Padmakar, NMU general secretary Sayeed Mahmood said that they are calling off the strike. EU had submitted 12 demands while NMU submitted 22 demands and most of them were agreed upon.
It has been decided to consider the strike period as earned leave period and pay the arrears in April and May next year. The state government had also agreed to regularise 9,500 employees by November 1 and pay salary advance of `25,000 to regular employees and `15,000 to contract employees. It had also agreed not to take any disciplinary action against the employees who went on strike.
The government has also agreed to one year tax (MV tax holiday) and reimburse 22.25 percent VAT collected on fuel. It had also agreed to pay back the amount belonging to various welfare funds of employees’ cooperatives by RTC management. Further, it was also agreed to allocate `500 crore for RTC in the state budget.