In a sensational move, the Telangana government on Sunday announced the dismissal of 48,000 employees and employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) from service after they began an indefinite strike demanding resolution of their long-pending problems.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who held a high-level meeting of Transport Department officials late Sunday evening, announced that the RTC now has only 1,200 employees, including those who were not involved in the strike and others who returned to duties. At 6 pm on Saturday, the unions set a deadline by the government to call off their strike.
Around 49,340 RTC workers and workers are on strike following a call initiated by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Telangana RTC Employees and Employees Unions on Saturday.
The employees have been merged with the RTC with the state government, as well as in neighboring Andhra Pradesh, where they are being extended as government employees for 60 years.
They are also demanding an amendment in their pay pending since April 2017. They want new recruitment in the corporation to reduce the workload on the employees.
According to an official release of the CMO after the high-level meeting, the Chief Minister said that all the employees who were not returned till Saturday evening lost their jobs.
“There is no question of any interaction with the fired employees and taking them back to duty. He has committed a major crime by resorting to strike at a time when RTC was incurring a loss of Rs 1200 crore and was facing a debt burden of Rs 5,000 crore besides suffering from rising diesel prices. In addition, working during the festive season is an unfair offense.
The Chief Minister also categorically rejected the merger of RTC with the state government. “We are not going to succumb to any blackmailing by unions of employees. We did not allow any kind of indiscipline in the institute forever.
KCR announced that the government would soon start an exercise to recruit new employees for RTC and the process would be completed as soon as possible. “The new recruits will have to work on probation for a fixed period of time and they must make a promise that they will not join any employee union,” he said.
Terming it a new chapter in the history of the Telangana RTC, KCR signaled partial privatization of public transport. He said that private bus operators would be brought to the RTC to serve as a public private partnership.
As an immediate measure, KCR ordered that 2,500 buses be leased and 4,114 private buses allowed to support public transport. He directed the authorities to restore normalcy within 15 days and expressed confidence that the RTC would return to profits within two to three years.
The Chief Minister also appointed a committee to study the revision of the RTC in the state and submit a report to the government at the earliest.