With their conciliation talks with the Kerala government failing to find a solution, the three recognised trade unions of the state-run Kerala State Road Transport Corporations have decided to go ahead with their strike, following which bus operations will stop from midnight on Thursday.
While the Congress-backed union has announced a 48-hour strike, the left-affiliated union and the BJP-backed BMS has announced a 24-hour protest, in all likelihood, bus services of the Kerala RTC are likely to be affected on Friday and Saturday. Thousands of passengers are likely to be inconvenienced by the strike.
The Kerala RTC is one of the biggest employers in the state government with over 35,000 employees, but the employees complain that they have not had a pay revision in the past nine years. Consequent to the strike, around 5,000 buses of Kerala RTC which operates around 5,100 schedules, covering, on an average every day around 16 lakh kilometres across the state, will not ply, hitting people dependent on this mode of transport.
State Transport Minister Antony Raju said the strike is due to the tough stand taken by the unions.
"The state government is committed to the pay revision and it would cost the exchequer an additional Rs 30 crore. We only asked the unions for some more time for implementation, but they were not willing to listen," he said.
However, the unions note that it is more than five months since Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had assured them on this aspect, but nothing has happened and hence, they have no other option but to go ahead with the strike.