Striking staff put brakes on KSRTC services

Passengers stranded across state , Min slams protesters for inconveniencing public , Corp threatens to cut pay

Published: 06th November 2021 05:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th November 2021 05:50 AM   |  A+A-

A family returns from the KSRTC bus stand in Kochi on Friday as there were no services owing to the strike called by various trade unions | A Sanesh

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The trade union strike demanding salary revision in KSRTC inconvenienced passengers as no bus service could be operated on Friday. Owing to the strike, the passengers had to depend on autorickshaws and private contract carriages in places where there was no private bus services. 

The situation is likely to continue on Saturday as two major trade unions decided to continue with the strike. The employees decided to go ahead with the strike though the management announced it would cut salaries for unauthorised absence.

Coming out heavily against the strike, Transport Minister Antony Raju said it was unacceptable that the employees choose to inconvenience the public in the talk between government and employees on salary revision. We are seriously considering laws to include KSRTC in the list of essential service. 

Inclusion in essential service will give powers to government to introduce stringent penal provision against the disruption of service under Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA). The minister also said the LDF government gave money for salaries and pensions in KSRTC during Covid-induced lockdown, when it generated meagre revenue and employees had no work.

Members of Transport Democratic Federation (INTUC), Kerala State Transport Employees Sangh (BMS) and Kerala State Transport Employees Union (AITUC) are striking against conditions set by government for salary revision and reforms in the organisation. The salary revision would cost an additional burden of `30 crore and the minister had sought more time. INTUC-affiliated trade union has already announced a 48-hour strike and AITUC-affiliated KSTEU decided to extend support on Friday. 

Last week, the KSRTC management and transport minister held talks with trade unions to arrive at an amicable solution, but in vain. A meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had agreed in principle to implement the salary revision in KSRTC after a gap of nine years. But the government also pressed for more revenue generation and reforms in the organisation. 

The major differences were on the scale of salary structure, appointments based on compassionate grounds, gratuity on a par with government departments etc. The management agreed on raising emergency aid to families of crew members who die while on duty, forming pension fund trust, resolving ambiguity in cost of damage rules etc.  

The management also discussed the ‘Madhya Pradesh model’ with trade unions. As per the model the employees will be paid 50 per cent salary and other benefits including pension during the leave period. The management is planning to implement the model among conductors and mechanical staff who are found to be in excess.

Earlier, the minister had informed the assembly that the financial crisis in KSRTC has worsened after the pandemic. It operates only 3,300 services at present and 40 per cent of them are running at a loss. According to him, the KSRTC spent 70 per cent of the income on fuel and it is unlikely to operate more than 3,800 services till March 2022. He also said KSRTC had around 7,500 excess staff and the board was considering options such as layoffs as it could not find money to pay salaries from the revenue generated.



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