HYDERABAD: Hardening its stand further, the state government on Sunday ruled out conceding the demands of the striking TSRTC employees — including a merger of the corporation with the government — and decided to hire 2,500 buses and recruit staff to ply them.
“This apart, about 4,114 buses in the state would be given stage carriage permits. Then, half the buses TSRTC runs would be under private managements and the remaining under its management,” Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said at a review meeting on Sunday evening after the RTC staff went on a strike from the early hours of Saturday.
Rao also made it clear that those who did not report for duty by the 6 pm deadline on Saturday must consider themselves out of the corporation.
“As on today, we have only 1,200 staff in the corporation as the rest of them did not report, and would not be taken into service under any circumstances,” an official press release, quoting the chief minister said on Sunday.
The chief minister said the government cannot be cowed down by blackmail tactics at a time when people were planning to visit their hometowns for Dasara.
“There would be no more talks with the unions,” he said, adding that the measures being contemplated would usher in a new chapter in the annals of the corporation.
The government’s priority would be to ensure the TSRTC gets back to making profits. It has been incurring a loss of Rs 1,200 crore year after year, and its accumulated losses are about Rs 5,000 crore.
While the ever-rising fuel prices are becoming a burden, the employees went on a strike, which is unethical and illegal, the government said. As far as losses in Hyderabad are concerned, the government said it would compensate the corporation.
Rao said the staff being recruited would have to give an undertaking that they would not join any union.
“The job offers would be conditional,” he said, adding that new recruits would be given the vacancies created by those who failed to report for duty on Saturday. They would also have a probationary period. This way, the TSRTC would get back to making profits, Rao felt. He asked officials to ensure that under the new scheme, buses would run as usual within the next 15 days.
Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has formed a committee under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary, Transport, Sunil Sarma that would submit a report to him by Monday on proposals discussed at the meeting. The other members of the committee are transport commissioner Sandeep Sultania, TSRTC executive directors, and the joint transport commissioner.
Rao felt that for the last 40 years, problems had been bedevilling the corporation, and there was now a need to find a lasting solution.
“States like Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Manipur do not have any state-owned transport corporations. Even in states like Bihar, Odisha, J&K, West Bengal, Rajasthan and UP, only skeletal services are run by transport corporations. Telangana has the maximum number of buses run by the corporation, next only to Karnataka. The state government has been taking good care of RTC employees, but they are not grateful. Is a strike warranted?” he asked.
The chief minister said the TSRTC has highly-skilled management and hoped that it would soon find its feet.
“Before taking any decision, we have to ensure there is a balance between the number of buses hired and those run by the management. The people are very angry with the TSRTC staff for going on strike on the eve of the festival. At present, about one crore people are travelling in 10,400 TSRTC buses every day. The RTC, on an average, pays Rs 50,000 as salary to each employee, but they want further pay hikes, which is not fair,” he said.
Ministers P Ajay Kumar and Vemula Prasanth Reddy, advisor to the State government Rajiv Sharma, Chief Secretary SK Joshi, Special Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, DGP M Mahender Reddy, Transport Secretary Sunil Sharma, CMO principal secretary S Narasing Rao and transport commissioner Sandeep Sultania attended the meeting.