Protests

Pensioners of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation’s (KSRTC) have called off their strike after the state government announced on Wednesday evening that it will clear all their arrears in a week’s time.

The government stopped paying pension to retirees of the KSRTC in September 2017. Since then, fifteen pensioners have reportedly committed suicide.

On Thursday, two more retirees killed themselves, following which Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan convened a meeting with top officials of the KSRTC and the Transport Minister AK Saseendran. The announcement was made after the meeting.

The arrears the government owes in the form of pensions adds up to a whopping Rs 224 crore.

The CM also put out a Facebook post saying, “The government has taken the issue very seriously and the necessary funds needed to pay off the debts will be arranged for at the earliest.”

The CM reportedly said in the meeting that pension for the months of December, January and February will be paid in full, and partial payment for September, will be made in a single instalment.

The government also said that funds will be arranged by taking loans from district cooperative banks and primary cooperative banks. The KSRTC and state government will sign a memorandum of understanding in this regard.

However, when contacted, a government official who attended the meeting said that no such information regarding which months arrears would be paid was discussed.

"The CM has not mentioned dates in his speech. Though he has confirmed that an agreement will be signed with the cooperative banks for arranging the funds and the funds will be transferred to the KSRTC for payment,” the official told TNM.

Natesh Babu from Wayanad and Karunakaran Nair from Thiruvananthapuram took their lives on Thursday owing to the delayed payment of pension for months.

Employees of KSRTC have been on strike since last year for they stopped receiving their pension. The pensions stopped coming in September and strike started in November last year.