As employees of the Karanataka State road transport undertakings declared to go on strike from Sunday midnight for two days, the government hurriedly declared a holiday for all schools. About 23,000 KSTRC, BMTC and regional RTC buses will be off roads on Monday and Tuesday, crippling life throughout the state not for one but for two days in a row.
The strike called by KSRTC and BMTC bus workers was to press their demand for 15% hike in DA. Even the Indian Vehicle Drivers Trade Union with a strength of over 1 lakh drivers has come out in support of the two-day strike, which may prolong as an indefinite strike from Monday.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is in Mysuru, said owing to disruption of bus services across the state by striking unions of BMTC, KSRTC, NEKRTC and NWKRTC, alternative arrangements are being examined but remained silent on the main demand of these striking staff to revise their wages despite recording a 35% profit by the two major bus services.
Siddaramaiah said the State government offered them up to 10% hike but the unions declined the offer and opted for strike for two days. He said their demand will be far higher than the wage revisions made by neighbouring States.
State Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy said it is financially unviable to meet their demands. “We will have an additional outlay of Rs. 1,550 crore over the next four years to provide a 10% hike. A 30% hike will mean around Rs. 4,500 crore, which will severely affect the corporation’s operations and is not possible,” he said.
Union leader H.V. Anantha Subba Rao criticised the government’s move on making alternative arrangements. “Let them do it. We are prepared to go ahead with the strike,” he said. The government said it is still continuing talks with the striking unions.