BENGALURU: Employees of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation, and North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation have been on strike since Thursday demanding salaries on par with state government staff among others, similar to that of its neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh. The state has been witnessing back-to-back protests for the past five days since December 8 has left commuters stranded across the state.
The protesters have been demanding they be considered government employees, with salaries equivalent to them and compensation similar to the COVID-19 front line staff in the event of death due to Coronavirus.
It may be recollected that Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy officially merged the Andhra Pradesh’s Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) into the State government and fulfilled the promise made to RTC employees over the poor wages and retirement age, when he undertook a padayatra across all 13 districts of the state.
The government has set up a new ‘Public Transport Department’ under the administrative control of the Transport, Roads and Buildings Department. ''Though the merger would put an additional burden of Rs 3,600 crore per annum on the state exchequer, it will bring happiness to 52,000 employees and their families,'' YS Jagan said in the Assembly, when he tabled the Bill in December last year. The Government formed two panels, including an experts’ panel, to study the issue and make recommendations for the smooth merger of the Corporation.
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Officials at KSRTC and BMTC said these two corporations themselves had suffered loss of Rs 6 Crore in revenue in the last three days due to the strike. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Lakshman Savadi after the meeting with the CM and Home minister Basavaraj Bommai said the government was willing to end the deadlock by holding discussions, but the first the protesting employees should return to work.