The management has said that after the merger of APSRTC with the state government, “workers” are now to be considered “public servants.”

APSRTC management tells employees they are not allowed to protest or unioniseImage for representation
news Transport Sunday, February 23, 2020 - 17:24

The APSRTC (Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation) was officially merged into the state government on January 1. Since the merger, the APSRTC Employees’ Union has continued to voice their concerns regarding various measures taken by the management of the corporation, which the union members believed would adversely affect the employees or the public transport department itself.  

The APSRTC management has now issued a notification to the workers who are now considered employees of the state government’s Public Transport Department (PTD), regarding the conduct rules applicable to them. The circular says that as per these rules, “the employees of PTD shall not criticize the policies of the Government and shall not criticize the Officers of the Government in press or media, shall not participate in any strike, demonstrations against the policies of the government.”

The circular notes that the status of PTD employees has been changed from “workers or mazdoors” to “public servant”, which means that The Code of Discipline, the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and the Trade Union Act, 1926 will not be applicable to the employees anymore. It instructs those employees who are “continuing to air grievances in media and criticizing the policies of the Government and its officials in public” to amend their actions. 

Although the merger was a long pending demand of the workers, and was one of the campaign promises made by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, the RTC Employees’ Union and its elected leaders have expressed their dissatisfaction with the way the merger has been carried out, and have held dharnas, relay hunger strikes and other forms of demonstrations in the past two months since the merger came into effect. 

Their demands have included the restoration of some of the employee benefits that the RTC workers’ unions had negotiated and earned over the past few decades since the corporation was formed. “We have our own set of problems that need to be dealt with. We cannot simply be treated on par with employees with 9-to-5 jobs, since our working conditions are different,” one union member said. 

Apart from working conditions, the Employees’ Union has also raised concerns over issues that they believe are harmful for the corporation in the long run. For instance, the union has objected to the alleged move by the RTC management to allow private buses to ply on RTC routes. 

The circular states that employees can continue to represent their grievances to the concerned officers, like all other government employees. However, the Employees’ Union has alleged that the management has remained inaccessible for dialogue and discussions since the merger, and has now notified that they cannot openly criticise government officials or policies. 

“There are about eight different unions in APSRTC. The management could have at least held a set of talks after the merger explaining how they were planning to carry out the merger and what it would mean for workers and unions. We were not expecting them to completely close the doors for any negotiations or criticism,” another Employees’ Union member said. 

The APSRTC management refused to comment on the matter. 

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