Days after Vijayawada MP Kesineni Srinivas, shut down the offices of Kesineni Travels, several employees who lost their jobs staged a dharna in front of the office on Monday, demanding payment of pending salaries.
As many as 110 employees of Kesineni Tours and Travels staged a massive protest against the MP for not paying their salary for the last 10 months.
According to reports, another 400 employees of the company, including drivers and cleaners from Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore, lost their livelihoods after the company suddenly closed down in March.
“The management should clear about Rs. 1 lakh due to each employee. But, it is not giving proper reply when asked for the dues,” an employee, Koteswara Rao, told The Hindu.
This came after all the luxury buses of the company, which is one of South India's largest private travel agencies, came to a halt and its offices in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were closed down.
On several occasions, I approached the general manager of the travels, Satish, urging him to pay salary arrears, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. Over the months, the management has been procrastinating on taking a decision on the payments. I have taken Rs. 30,000 on high interest from a private moneylender to save my family from starving. There is no option left for with me but to commit suicide,” M Nagaraju, a cleaner from Kanchikacherla village who has been working at Kesineni Tours told The New Indian Express.
The protesters alleged that a vernacular daily had published that the travels had paid three months’ advance to employees before closing.
“The management is spreading lies of providing three months salaries in advance to staff. In fact, several drivers and cleaners have to be paid salaries for around 10 months,” T Satyanarayana of Visakhapatnam told The Hans India.
The whole issue started in the last week of March, when Srinivas, along with TDP MLA from Vijayawada Central, Bonda Umamaheshwara Rao, had heated arguments with Transport Commissioner N. Balasubramanyam over alleged illegal operations of travel operators registered in other states.
The MP alleged that due to the "corrupt" practices of transport officials, around 400 private buses were operating across the state without permits.
Subramanyam denied the allegations and said every bus was paying taxes to the Transport Department and operating with permit.
A video also surfaced that showed the TDP MLA Umamaheshwara Rao roughing up one of the security personnel of the Commissioner.
The March 25 incident had snowballed into a major controversy with the transport employees threatening to go on strike if the MP and MLA did not apologise.
Following this, the MP shut the company in protest.
Kesineni reportedly felt insulted after Naidu made him apologise to Transport Commissioner N. Balasubramanyam for misbehaviour.
Meanwhile, the protesters will continue the dharna on Tuesday.