Karnataka’s road transport employees on Sunday called off their 4-day strike after the state government responded to some of their demands, enabling resumption of bus services across the southern state.
“As we accepted some of their demands at a meeting with their union leaders, the road transport employees have agreed to withdraw the strike and resume bus services from tonight,” state Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi told reporters here.
“Though the state government agreed to offer health insurance under the Arogya Sanjeevini scheme, wage revision and inter-corporation transfers, the demand for government-employee status has been rejected,” asserted Savadi, who holds the transport portfolio.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has about 37,019 employees and runs a fleet of 17,138 buses through three subsidiaries, including Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), North East Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) and North West Road Transport Corporation (NWRTC).
Of the total fleet, BMTC has 6,500 buses, KSRTC 5,500 buses and the remaining are with the other two corporations (NEKRTC and NWRTC).
The road transport behemoth operates intra-state services in cities, towns and villages across the southern state and inter-state services to all five neighbouring states — Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
With regular train services remaining suspended since mid-March due to the Covid-induced lockdown and restrictions to contain the pandemic, thousands of people have been using buses to commute daily by wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance and washing their hands with sanitizer.
The sudden strike since Friday disrupted the public transport, forcing thousands of commuters to use private buses or other transport modes in cities and towns across the state.
With all the four corporations reeling under huge losses due to the lockdown and the guideline to carry 50 per cent of the bus capacity to ensure social distancing, salaries to the employees were delayed over the months till November.
As Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha president Kodihalli Chandrashekar was leading the strike for a section of the employees, the state government refused to talk to him, as he is a farmer and has nothing to do with road transport.
State Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa accused Chandrashekar of instigating the transport employees to strike after leading thousands of farmers to participate in the nationwide shutdown against the three farms laws enacted by the Centre recently.
Savadi also threatened to deploy private buses across the state from Monday if the strike was not withdrawn by Sunday.