Transport Minister Antony Raju said the KSRTC strike, which holds the public hostage and puts pressure on the government, cannot be ignored. When the minister said that, all the unions in the company were on strike. With the exception of senior officials and security personnel, not a single employee came to work on Friday and Saturday. The view was that essential services would be provided one way or another. But not a single transport bus operated. Previously, it had been clearly stated that the strike day’s pay would be withheld. In areas where only transport buses are in service, ordinary commuters were very worried for two days.
The current strike is to protest against the delay in wage reform. We have heard that the talks on wage reform are almost over. Those who have gone on strike from time to time have no commitment to the institution or the people on an issue that can be resolved through further discussion. The strike was called not because of the income from the traffic of the buses, but because the government pays them every month with ordinary tax dollars.
The government pays KSRTC around Rs 80 crore or Rs 100 crore each month for wages. During the days of Covid, wages were paid without any reduction even during the period when bus services had to be completely stopped. Even when the services were partially started, not even a tenth of the amount required to pay the salary was received. In addition to employee salaries, the government also pays pensions for former employees who are over 40,000 years old. The one or two day strike comes at a time when the KSRTC, which is sort of a responsibility of the government, becomes a thorn in the side of the public sector itself. This caused a loss of Rs 9 crore to the company. The unions say the strike was not called off because they could not avoid it. They are absolutely sure that they will get what they deserve, whatever the nature of the institution. It is guaranteed to be captured with an organized force. That is why the two days immediately following Diwali were chosen for the strike. On days when all schools are open and various exams are scheduled, the government can give in if the population is suffocated by the strike. Minister Antony Raju said yesterday that they plan to declare KSRTC an essential service. This consultation should have been done earlier.
Much of the country’s population is still in poverty without work or pay. The unions, which are preparing for a strike that will make it harder for everyone in the name of wage reform, can only be delayed for a few days or weeks, but it is in fact a kind of declaration of war on travelers. What they have achieved thanks to this strike. They must also think.