Schools and colleges are likely to reopen unless special orders are released, but Bengaluru urban has declared holiday

No end to bus strike in Karnataka schools and colleges likely to open except in urban Bengaluru
news Transport Strike Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 20:05

As the second day of the government bus staff staff strike comes to a close, no peace has been brokered between Karnataka transport union and the state government.

Even on Tuesday, neither government representatives nor ministers met the protesters for any discussion or negotiations.

While schools and colleges were largely shut down, many other regular bus commuters, particularly labourers in the unorganised sector faced difficulties in getting to their workplaces.

 Manjunath, office secretary of All India Trade Union Centre said that they would not call off the strike until the government accepted their demands, especially the 35% increase in salary. 

​"It has been two days since we started protesting. There has been absolutely no invitation from the ministry for discussions. We are all frustrated. However, we will wait for as long as it takes for the government to address our demands,"said Manjunath.​ 

Alternate arrangements

However, according to Rajender Kataria, managing director of KSRTC, some buses have started plying in and around Bengaluru with police presence on Tuesday. 

"A few buses are operating from major bus depots like Shantinagar, Shivajinagar and Kempegowda (Majestic) after the government asked the trainee staff to do so. I am hoping that large number of employees report tomorrow and we will have smooth service across the state," he said.

The transport corporation has already given temporary permission for private transport companies, especially in areas that are slightly inaccessible. 

Kataria added that buses from neighbouring states are also functioning in the state. 

"Last time when there was a strike in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, we had sent buses to those states. Now, we have requested them to return the favour," he said. 

Schools

Schools in Karnataka are likely to reopen on Wednesday even if government bus drivers continued with the state-wide strike. Bengaluru urban has declared holiday, while educational institutions in Bengaluru rural will be open on Wednesday. Many schools in urban Bengaluru have already declared holiday on Wednesday.

A source from the Department of Public Instruction said, "Unless the deputy commissioners of every district issue a special order declaring a holiday, the schools across the state will be functioning. So far there has been nothing issued."

Losses

Asked whether the transport corporation had been affected financially by the strike, Kataria asserted that apart from causing trouble to regular commuters, the loss because of state-wide protest has been rather negligible.

"Forty-five to fifty percent is the salary component and the corporation policy clearly asserts that "No work, No pay". The transport corporation's losses in the last two days is hardly anything as we are saving up on operational costs. We will be saving up on fuel cost that is almost 40% of the operational costs. Government saved on fuel costs, salaries and consumables, amounting to almost 80% of the operations cost of Rs 20 crore" he said.

"People's faith on government buses has been affected, but I am hoping everything will be alright soon," he added. 

Pay

Refuting transport staff's allegations that the pay is the lowest in south India, Kataria said that the pay scale for the staff is one of the highest in India.

“Our pay start from Rs 20,000 and extends to Rs 75, 000. Besides this we also pay incentives from time to time,”he said.

A source from BMTC said that to fulfill the demand of a 35% hike in wages, the government will have to set aside over Rs 4500 crores and claimed that the government might not have enough funds to meet the demands.

However, the striking workers do not accept this argument. "When BMTC and KSRTC have recorded 35% profits, why can't they give us a decent hike?” asked Manjunath.

 

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