The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) has laid off 6,270 contract employees citing financial crisis due to the COVID-19 lockdown, APSRTC Employees' Union claimed on Friday.
It said that the management through oral orders had asked the contract workers not to report for duties.
The depot managers were directed to utilise the services of only outsourcing staff. There are 52,000 regular employees in the corporation.
The decision to lay off the employees came over a WhatsApp message from the RTC vice-chairman and MD Madireddy Prataps office, reported The Hans India. The message read, "In view of planning conductor-less operation for all buses, there will be excess conductors. They shall be redeployed at needed places duly withdrawing the outsourced employees to the extent of excess conductors available."
The employees' union has appealed to Transport Minister Perni Nani to reconsider the orders to lay off the contract employees. The union leaders pointed out that the central government has issued clear instructions that there should be no lay-offs in government or private organisations during the lockdown.
They recalled that the state government too had assured in the past that the contract workers will not be removed from service.
As many as 6,270 contract workers are rendering their services in APSRTC head office in Vijayawada, offices of the regional managers, bus depots, workshops and hospitals. Majority of them are sweepers, attenders and grade-4 employees.
"We were demanding that the 7,800 regular vacancies be filled to ease the workload on existing staff. The management took this drastic decision to axe the contract workers," said employees' union general secretary P Damodara Rao.
The employees' union said the contract workers were not even paid salaries for the month of April.
The APSRTC in the meantime issued circulars to all regional managers asking them to prepare for resuming bus service on May 18 in a phased manner. In the first phase, 635 buses will resume service in the Ananthapur region. The RTC super-luxury buses are also being modified at RTC garages for passengers to maintain physical distance, reported The Hans India.
Earlier Vijayawada RTC officials had redesigned a 36-seater super luxury bus, removing ten seats. Each row will now only have three seats. The proposal was sent to the Chief Ministers Office for approval, reported TNIE.
The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in his interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged the Prime Minister to allow resuming public transport to kick start the local economy in his state.
(With IANS inputs)