HYDERABAD: The Chief Minister’s Office in Telangana had verbally stated that all 50,000 staff of TSRTC who went on strike will not be hired back. However, experts and senior officials from RTA note it would take a long time to replace them if the sacking were to happen. One section which will especially be difficult to hunt for and replace will be the TSRTC drivers who are a highly skilled niche group.
In Hyderabad itself, for instance, there are over 21,000 such drivers with heavy motor vehicle licence. However, when it comes to driving passenger heavy vehicles, there are merely 1,500-2,000 drivers with that kind of experience who can be immediately recruited. RTC with its existing fleet would require at least 30k bus drivers.
“It has been a little tough to recruit people every day, as not everyone has that kind of experience we are looking for. Not only should a person require Heavy Vehicle licence, but should also have 18 months-2 years experience driving a passengers vehicle,” noted an official from RTA. Even most heavy vehicle licence owners prefer to work for lorries and heavy machinery operators as they tend to pay upwards of Rs30,000 as they have to travel to outskirts for 15-20 days assignment.
The likelihood of these drivers already being employed is also higher. “Most are already drivers in schools, or in companies or private travels,” added the officials. They also get paid better than entry-level RTC employees with pay of about `20,000 to `25,000. Furthermore, though the government has expressed willingness to recruit newcomers, they cannot be recruited directly. “We have not even seen a rush in applicants for heavy motor vehicle licences. Even if they want to join TSRTC, the two-year criteria makes it extremely tough for new drivers to be recruited,” added another senior official.
Meanwhile, a division bench of Telangana High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to inform the court by Oct 18 about the steps taken by it for resolving the ongoing strike by TSRTC employees and workers which commenced on Oct 5. It has also directed both the government and striking employees to resume talks for resolving the issue amicably as soon as possible for the sake of public interest. It has asked both parties to inform the outcome of such talks to the court by the next date of case hearing.
JAC supports strike
In a complete volte-face, the Joint Action Committee of State Government Employees Unions on Tuesday expressed their solidarity with the striking employees of TSRTC. “We understand their problems. We are with them. It is not proper to say that we were working against them,” JAC chairman K Ravinder Reddy said after a meeting at the TNGO Bhavan. The sudden change came as a surprise since only two days ago, the JAC said they had nothing to do with the strike since they had not been consulted with the decision.