Transport workers of Karnataka, under the banner of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation Employees’ Federation, staged protests at KSRTC bus stands at various places in the state on 27th January, demanding that the government immediately fulfill their pending demands.
There are more than 1.36 lakh state-run road transport corporation workers who operate nearly 30,000 buses across various divisions. A large number of these workers are women, who not only ply the buses but also perform technical services and support work.
The association of workers of the four road transport corporations of Karnataka, including those from KSRTC and BMTC, issued a warning to the state government on 2nd February that they would be forced to go on indefinite strike because the government has not yet fulfilled their demands. Two months ago, more than 1.2 lakh transport workers of the four government-run road transport corporations of the state had gone on strike for four days from 10th December, bringing all road transport services across the state to a halt.
The agitating transport workers have submitted letters and memoranda to the Chief Minister and the state transport minister, and have been holding black badge protests even while continuing with their duties.
The workers had placed several demands before the government, which the government had agreed to implement. These included the demands for a salary hike according to the 6th Pay Commission’s recommendations, withdrawal of not issued-not collected (NINC) cases filed against conductors for not issuing tickets to commuters, Arogya Sanjeevini Health Insurance cover for all employees and Rs. 30 lakh ex-gratia for the families of those workers who succumbed to Covid-19. The striking workers had pointed out that many of them, including drivers and conductors, were either not paid their salaries at all or paid very late when the pandemic was at its peak, causing grave distress to them and their families. They demanded that they be brought on the government’s payroll and provided the same benefits and incentives as government employees.
The honorary president of the Karnataka Transport Employees Union said that they had agreed to call off their strike in December 2020 after the government had offered assurances that within three months these demands would be implemented. However, even after one and a half months, no steps have been taken to fulfill their demands. If their demands are not fulfilled soon they will go on an indefinite strike.