According to the Kerala RTC, the vacant posts will now be filled by those who have already been furnished advice memos by the Public Service Commission.

Over 3800 Kerala RTC empanelled workers given dismissal orders to march for justice
news Transport Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - 10:43

Bhadra Prasad BS, a 37-year-old empanelled conductor at a bus station run by the Kerala Road Transport Corporation (RTC) in Thiruvananthapuram for the last 11 years, is yet to come to terms with his dismissal ‘order’ verbally conveyed to him on Monday afternoon.

“As usual, I went to duty. But I was told that there is no job from today. I stood there for a few minutes, I felt that I will collapse there. Then, I returned home clueless on what to do next,” Bhadra, who was the sole-breadwinner of his four-member family, including his aged parents, says.

“I got the job through government employment exchange in 2008. It was a daily wage job. When I joined, the wage was Rs 140 and later on, it became Rs 480. But that’s it. There are no other benefits. But I was able to make both ends meet. Now, they have thrown me under the bus, literally. Don’t know what to do, where to go or whom to plead in front of,” Bhadra told The News Minute.

Bhadra’s case is not an isolated one. Over 3,800 empanelled conductors are in the same situation as Bhadra.

Court Order

The Kerala RTC has issued orders for the mass dismissal of 3,861 empanelled conductors with immediate effect.

The dismissal orders, dated December 16 and based on a High Court verdict of December 6, have been sent to all the KSRTC depots where empanelled conductors work and the daily wage workers have been told to leave the job.

On December 6, the Kerala High Court had ordered the retrenchment of empanelled workers within a week to make way for those who had secured advice memos from the Public Service Commission.

“As per the May 5, 2013 Rank List, openings have been reported to the PSC. Hence empanelled conductors cannot continue in their job. Action should be taken within one week or else it will be treated as contempt of court,” the court had said in its order.

And when the court took up the issue again on Monday, the Corporation was severely criticised for not issuing the necessary orders.

The court had set Monday, December 17, as the deadline for executing its order.

The court said that the Kerala RTC management was trying to fool the public and warned that it was well within its rights to remove those in high positions in the Corporation.

The Kerala RTC MD has also been asked to file an affidavit on December 18 testifying that not a single empanelled conductor was working in the organisation.

It was on May 9, 2013, that the Public Service Commission published the reserve conductor Rank List.

In the first phase, 9,300 candidates were served an advice memo. Of this, 3,808 were soon sent appointment orders.

The remaining 5,492 had to keep waiting for over three years before a large number of them received advice memos. In the second allotment, 4,051 were sent advice memos.

When none of them received an appointment order, some of the candidates in the list approached the High Court.

Not against job seekers

Meanwhile, Bhadra said that we are not against those who are entitled to get the job.

“We are not against them. In the past, when such situations came up, we were also retained. The government could have done that. Now, they have put us against them (job seekers), which is unfair,” Bhadra said, adding that the trade unions are also remaining silent on the situation.

“I belong to Centre of Indian Trade Unions. Every month, they take Rs 100 from my salary. But now, when we have landed in trouble, it seems they are least bothered about our case. They have not even pasted a poster in our favour,” Bhadra said.

Long March

According to Bhadra, they are planning a long march from Punnappara, Alappuzha to the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, on Wednesday.

“The deserted workers and the family members will hold a long march to highlight our plight. Additionally, we are also thinking of approaching the Supreme Court,” Bhadra said.

According to the Kerala RTC, the vacant posts will now be filled by those who have already been furnished advice memos by the Public Service Commission.

Assurances

Kerala RTC chairman and managing director Tomin J Thachankary, while talking to the ousted empanelled workers on Monday, reassured them and said that this was only a temporary measure.

“It is not the government's policy to do away with empanelled workers. The Corporation is doing its best to ensure that you would be called back,” Thachankary said, adding, “If need be, we will go to the Supreme Court against this.”\

Talking to media, Transport Minister AK Saseendran said that services in Malabar region would be adversely affected by the decision.

He said that the decision would further aggravate the woes of a cash-strapped Kerala RTC.

The minister said that the government would try to convince the court of the severe stress permanent employees would impose on Kerala RTC.

He also claimed that the government was not in a position to rehabilitate the empanelled workers who had lost their jobs.

Crisis will worsen

Meanwhile, a trade union leader in the state transport sector said that Kerala RTC’s mismanagement led to the present crisis.

“If the Kerala RTC had bought 1,000 busses with the Rs 323 crore allotted by the government, 2,750 conductors and 2,750 drivers would have got a job. This is for the first time that a mass dismissal is happening,” said MG Rahul, general secretary of Kerala State Transport Employees Union (KSTEU), which is affiliated to the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).

“In 1979, this kind of a dismissal had happened. But that was in phases. And through protests and legal options, we were able to get back the jobs,” Rahul said, adding that removal of 4,000 workers will put the entire operation of Kerala RTC in trouble.

According to a CAG report published in 2017, the Kerala Road Transport Corporation incurred a loss of Rs 1,431.29 crore in 2014-15.

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, as it was called initially, was established in March 1965 under the Road Transport Corporation Act, 1950 to provide road transport services and other ancillary services in the state.

 

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