Kerala Kaumudi Online
Sunday, 05 December 2021 10.13 AM IST

The ‘balance sheet’ of bus strike


Transport Minister Antony Raju has said that the KSRTC strike, which is holding the public hostage and putting pressure on the government, cannot be ignored. When the minister said this, all the unions in the corporation had gone on strike. Except for top officials and security personnel, not a single employee came to work on Friday and Saturday. The notice was that the essential services would be carried out somehow. But not a single transport bus ran. Earlier it was made clear that the strike day pay would be withheld. In areas where only transport buses are in service, ordinary commuters were really worried for two days.

The current strike is in protest of the delay in the pay reform. It was heard that the salary reform talks were almost over. Those who have gone on strike from time to time have no commitment to the institution or to the people on an issue that can be resolved through further discussions. The strike was launched not because of the income from running buses, but because of the fact that the government pays them every month with the tax money of the common man.
The government pays KSRTC around Rs 80 crore or Rs 100 crore every month for salaries. During the Covid days, salaries were paid without any reduction even during the period when bus services had to be stopped completely. Even when the services were partially started, not even one tenth of the amount required to pay the salary was received. In addition to the salaries of the employees, the government also pays the pensions of the former employees who are over 40,000. The one- or two-day strike comes at a time when the KSRTC, which is in any way a liability to the government, is becoming a thorn in the side of even the public sector. This caused a loss of Rs 9 crore to the corporation. The unions say the strike was not called off because they could not avoid it. They are absolutely sure that they will get what they deserve no matter how the institution is. It is guaranteed to be captured with organized force. That is why the two days immediately following the Diwali holiday were chosen for the strike. On days when all the schools are open and various exams are scheduled, the government may give in if the people are suffocated by the strike. Minister Antony Raju said yesterday that they are planning to declare KSRTC an essential service. This consultation should have been done earlier.

A large section of the people in the country are still in the midst of misery without any work or wages. The unions, which are preparing for a strike that will make it difficult for all people in the name of a pay reform can only be delayed by days or weeks but this is actually kind of declaring war against travellers. What they have achieved through this strike. They also need to think about.

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