BENGALURU: Irked over the State Government’s refusal to bring their salaries on par with the 6th Pay Commission recommendations, around 1.30 lakh employees of all state road transport corporations in Karnataka — including BMTC — have decided to indefinitely strike work from Wednesday. However, to ensure that citizens are not inconvenienced with the major mode of commute going off the roads, the Transport Department is making alternative arrangements.
Transport Commissioner N Shivakumar told TNIE that alternate arrangements have been made. “We have requested private buses and mini-buses to operate. These buses will ply till the time the strike is called off. Children attending offline classes and office-goers could be affected, so alternative arrangements are being made to the extent possible,” he said.
Cabbies support stir, but will operate
“Around 2,000 buses will ply in Bengaluru substituting the BMTC. Passengers using KSRTC, NEKRTC and NWKRTC services will be informed by SMS of the alternative arrangements,” added Transport Commissioner Shivakumar. The Ola and Uber taxi drivers unions said, “We morally support the strike called by the bus drivers’ and conductors’ unions. But we will not be a part of it. All taxis will operate normally.”
BMRCL has decided to increase the number of Metro services to mitigate the effects of the strike. From Wednesday, trains will run every 4.5 minutes on the Purple Line and very five minutes on the Green Line, from 7am to 9pm. The four transport corporations together have 24,000 buses. Of these 6,500 vehicles belong to BMTC, 4,000 to North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC), 5,500 to North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) and the biggest number of 8,000 to Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).
The Chief Traffic Manager of KSRTC has written to all other transport corporations asking them to make other arrangements like roping in private bus operators and stationed school buses in the wake of the strike. In the meantime, BMTC and KSRTC managing directors issued a circular to all their employees urging them to call off the strike. They also said that if employees do not report for duty, they will not be paid salaries.
While the unions announced on Monday that the strike will start from Wednesday, many drivers and conductors started going off the roads from Tuesday afternoon itself, catching commuters off guard, and leaving many stranded. In some parts of Bengaluru, BMTC buses did not ply on scheduled routes from Tuesday afternoon. In other districts like Tumakuru and Shivamogga, KSRTC drivers, who were to ply evening services, left the buses at the depots and headed home to participate in the strike.
Unions said BMTC, KSRTC, NWKRTC and NEKRTC bus drivers and conductors have joined the protest. A senior official from the Transport Department requested commuters: “In the wake of rising Covid-19 cases and the strike called by various unions, citizens are requested to avoid travel, unless it is essential.” The unions said this will not deter their spirit in any manner and that the strike will go on as scheduled. “No bus will ply from April 7 morning, and whichever depot buses reach, they will be parked there itself.”