The Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) has been incurring a daily loss of Rs 8 crore owing to the COVID-19 crisis, according to officials. While usually, the public transport corporation makes a daily earning of Rs 12 crore, since May 19, when the RTC operations resumed partially, the cooperation has been earning Rs 4 crore.
While the TSRTC has a fleet of around 10,000 buses, invariably only around 4,000 buses are currently in service in the state. The public bus services are not allowed in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation jurisdiction, as the city is registering an overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases each day.
According to officials, the patronage for the TSRTC has declined over fears of contracting the disease when travelling on buses. âThough the buses are sanitised and physical distance is being ensured, people are unwilling to choose RTC buses for travel,â said an official, requesting anonymity.
To make up for the losses, the TSRTC services have launched cargo services for delivering parcels, couriers and bulk goods in June. A total of 104 buses were pressed into cargo services in the first phase.
Employees worry getting infected
Meanwhile, TSRTC employees working in Hyderabad have been alleging unfair treatment by the depot managers. The employees say that the authorities have been calling them regularly to the depot office, just for attendance, even though buses are not plying.
âUntil recently, all 500 employees were called to work every day, just to mark our attendance. The reason the buses in Hyderabad are not allowed to operate is because of the widespread infection in the city. But our depot manager made us come for work every day,â said a conductor from Miyapur-1 bus depot.
âWe are made to distribute fliers at bus stops to advertise about the TSRTC. Is it not extremely unsafe? Is the Corporation responsible for our well-being or not?â he asked.
However, after objecting to this multiple times, the employees have now been asked to come to the office twice a week to mark their attendance.
The workers also lamented the laxity of the TSRTC management to get government approval in setting up an isolation facility for the employees.
âWe are on par with the frontline workers, who have been risking their lives for public service. So why cannot the authorities set up an isolation ward for us? We have our own healthcare facility in Tarnaka (in Hyderabad). It should be converted partially as an isolation ward,â said Raju, a TSRTC employee from BHEL bus depot, who also sat on a hunger strike demanding the same.
Further, the employees approached the State Human Rights Commission with the demand for an isolation facility, on Tuesday.
Allegations of deductions in salaries
Vinayaka Reddy, a conductor and Miyapur divisional secretary of TSRTC Employees Union, alleged that the management is deducting their salaries by cutting their leave and marking them absent even if they are marking their attendance.
âUsually, I receive a salary of Rs 24,000. However, I received only Rs 21,000 for the month of June due to loss of pay for being absent. As per my payslip, I only worked for 14 days. The rest of the 16 days, I was either put on involuntary leave or marked absent,â Reddy alleged.
Nagabhushanam, a driver from Bhadrachalam depot claimed, âI receive a salary of Rs 26,000 in hand. In June, however, I received a salary of just Rs 6,000, even when I regularly marked myself present on all working days. They claimed that I was on leave for many days and marked me absent.â
Dismissing his allegations, Bhadrachalam bus depot manager Srinivas told TNM, âThe allegations are totally false. Whoever marked themselves present have received their full salary. The employees who were âspareâ (who were not required) were sent on leave and full payment was made.â