Close to 50,000 employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) workers struck work on 5th October 2019. On October 21, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) that is leading the protests called for a ‘Sakala Janula Samara Bheri’, a public gathering with lakhs of people, to be held in Hyderabad on October 30.
|TSRTC employees shaving their heads in protest|
TSRTC employees have listed 26 demands. These include merger of the TSRTC with the state government, which would make them eligible to benefits; reimbursement of government dues to TSRTC; and an allocation of 1% of the state Budget to TSRTC. Other demands include job security for drivers and conductors; and immediate payment of a salary hike due since 1st April.
The state government has retaliated to the strike by declaring that the striking workers who have stayed away from work have dismissed themselves and are not employees of TSRTC any longer. The government has also not taken any step to meet the striking workers despite the High Court’s directions to the government and TSRTC Managing Director to negotiate with the striking unions.
In the face of such an impasse, the JAC launched an action plan of protests for 10 days starting 21st October, involving the participation of workers’ families, temporary drivers and conductors, female conductors and even children. The campaign would culminate in the mass public gathering planned for 30th October.
Several sections of the state’s working population and political parties and organisations of workers have supported the strike of TSRTC. On 19th October, students’ organisations, trade unions, government employees, private transport workers and opposition parties participated in the state-wide bandh called by the transport workers. Uber and Ola driver unions joined the bandh alongside private transport providers including autos and taxis. Small shopkeepers to big businesses have voluntarily kept themselves away from their daily routine and supported the protesters. Many of these protestors have had to face police retaliation for their peaceful support of the strike. Hundreds of protesters across the state have been indiscriminately detained by the state police, amid forceful crackdown.
The TSRTC workers are determined to be heard and have vowed to intensify their strike till a resolution is reached.