By BS Reporter
The indefinite strike launched on Thursday by employees of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has hit hundreds of thousands of commuters, particularly students, across the state and the government threatened to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) if the stir was not called off.
The strike has affected office goers, school and college students and general commuters as thousands of them were stranded at several bus stations in Bangalore city from early morning on Thursday. Many office goers had to depend on their personal means of transport, autorikshaws and private buses. The state government has, however, banned operation of private buses in Bangalore city.
The employees of all state transport corporations have launched an indefinite strike pressing for implementation of their demands including pay revision and regularisation of around 33,000 trainee employees working with the four road transport corporations in the state.
As a result of the statewide strike as many as 6,200 BMTC buses and 8,000 buses of KSRTC have gone off the roads.
The stir began several hours ahead of schedule on Wednesday late evening onwards causing immense disruption of transport services and many officer goers and commuters who arrived late evening in Bangalore city had to wait for hours at Majestic bus stand and other satellite bus terminals in Bangalore city.
The Labour Commissioner had declared the strike “illegal” under the Industrial Disputes Act 1947, Deputy Chief Minister and Transport Minister R Ashoka told reporters here after a meeting with top Transport Department officials. Admitting that the strike has affected commuters in several districts, Ashoka said the government has decided to permit private vehicles including maxi cabs to operate at all bus stations to help passengers. “The wages paid by KSRTC is the highest in the Southern states.Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation employees have been given 23 per cent hike, but they have been demanding 30 per cent in other four KSRTC divisions. The hike has incurred Rs 2200 crore financial burden on the corporation over the next four years”, he asserted. “The government is ready for talks with striking employees. We will wait till this evening and if the strike is not called off, then we will think of invoking the stringent ESMA,” he said.
Ashoka said there are no recognised employees union in KSRTC and the issue of which union should be recognised was pending before court. Some 500 buses are plying in the city, he said and hoped that the number would increase by evening. The employees are protesting against the managements ‘unilaterally’ taking a decision on wage revision.
Thousands of buses operated by Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation went off the roads across the state, including capital Bangalore from early hours this morning as part of the state-wide indefinite strike launched by employees of transport corporations.
The bus passengers and city commuters were hit in several other cities like KGF, Raichur, Gulbarga, Kolar, Chikmagalur among others.