The strike organised by the KSRTC employees on Sunday against the brutal killing of a driver was near total in the district. All recognised unions in the district participated in the protest. P Sadashivan, 53, a KSRTC bus driver, was beaten to death by two youths, Asraf Khader and Anas Kunjappan at KSRTC Aluva bus depot on Saturday. The youths attacked Sadashivan, accusing him of hitting their motorcycle in front of the bus station.
K Chandhrababu, zonal officer, KSRTC, Ernakulam, said that “the services were badly affected in the district. The unfortunate death of Sadashivan provoked an unprecedented fury and demand for justice among the employees which compelled them to hold a protest. All the unions supported the strike and hence it was near total in the district. Eight depots in the district could hardly operate services. The daily routine was severely hit by the strike.”. T P Venu, district secretary of the Kerala State Road Transport Employees Association (KSRTEA), CITU, the majority union in the KSRTC, said that of the 700 schedules in the district, 637 schedules were affected. “The strike was near total. Apart from some long-distance buses that started off before 6 am, none of the schedules operated. We admit that we have caused inconvenience to the public but there was no other way. We were forced to go on a strike. If there is no security for the life of the workers, what can we do,” he asked.
A V Unnikrishnan, state secretary, Kerala State Road Transport Employees Union (KSRTEU), AITUC, said that “Sadashivan’s unfortunate death is a reflection of work hazards faced by the transport employees. The last few years have witnessed increased attacks against transport employees. According to the government statistics on an average 280 attacks against transport workers are reported in a year. The numbers are shocking and disturbing. Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram top the number of assault cases against workers.”
K S Najibudheen, district joint secretary of the KSRTEA pointed out that KSRTC employees have become an easy prey for the criminal elements. “Our roads are suffering from overload of vehicles. The increasing traffic congestion results in frequent verbal altercation between drivers of different vehicles. KSRTC employees are at the receiving end most of the times,” he said.
Najibudheen alleged that in many instances the private bus lobby deliberately organises attacks against KSRTC workers. “This tendency is visible in routes were private bus lobby and KSRTC competes with each other such as Muvatupuzha-Kakkanad route and Ernakulam-Aluva route. There are many cases in which fake cases were registered against KSRTC employees at the behest of private bus lobby. Sometimes KSRTC employees are cleverly dragged into fights. The strategy is to harass the employees and destroy their mental peace,”, he said.
Aryadan Muhammed, Minister for Transport visited the Ernakulam General Hospital to pay homage to the deceased driver. Later speaking to City Express, the Minister said that the government would ensure that justice is meted out to the family of the victim. “The victim’s family will be given a decent compensation,” he said. “The next Cabinet meeting will decide about the amount. KSRTC will also offer a job to one of the family members of the victim,” he said.