Karnataka: Minister cites poll code for delay in pay revision, asks transport employees to wait till May 4

Savadi said, "In case we do not get permission from the EC, we would not be able to decide on pay revision till May 4."

In a second appeal made to road transport employees’ unions in the state urging them to cancel plans of an indefinite strike from April 7, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi cited the model code of conduct, which is in place for the upcoming bypolls, as the hindrance for the government to take a decision on revising their salaries.

Reiterating that an indefinite strike would cause inconvenience to the general public, Savadi said, “The government is unable to make any announcement on pay revision as the Model Code of Conduct is already in place in Bidar, Raichur and Belagavi (for the upcoming bypolls). It is mandatory that prior permission is sought from the Election Commission (EC) and we have already approached them in this regard.”

Also in charge of the Transport Department, Savadi continued, “In case we do not get permission from the EC, we would not be able to decide on pay revision till May 4.”

Hinting that the government has consented to the demands of the employees, Savadi said, “A decision to hike the salaries have already been taken. We will not go back on our words. We are ready to formally announce this as soon as the EC gives us permission to do so.”

However, several employees of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North East Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC), North West Road Transport Corporation (NWRTC), and Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) have decided to go on with their plan of an indefinite strike from April 7. The major demand raised by employees is for salaries on par with recommendations made by the 6th Pay Commission.

Savadi also cited that revising salaries would put the state-run corporations to an additional burden of Rs 3,800 crore in four years. “As many as six rounds of meetings have been held with top officials of the Transport and Finance Departments so far. Ridership has also dropped from one crore daily to 65 lakh due to the pandemic. Now, due to the ongoing second wave, it has further dropped by 5 per cent,” Savadi said.

Bus commuters’ forum writes to CM, Transport Minister

Meanwhile, regular bus commuters in the state, including Bengaluru Bus Prayaanikara Vedike (BBPV) wrote to the Chief Minister and the Transport Minister accusing them of neglecting bus passengers and transport corporations.

“For instance, the government spends thousands of crores on developing the Ring Road, Flyovers, Elevated Corridor to be used for private vehicles. So why are they hesitating to invest money in BMTC which carries 20 lakh trips a day (38 lakh trips before Covid)? Thousands of crores are spent on the development of Metro, which manages only 1.5 lakh trips a day (5 lakh before Covid). But when the BMTC asks Rs 700 crores for its rejuvenation plan, the government says that it needs to take loans from foreign banks!” the open letter mentioned.

Further, the commuter forums urged the state government to drop any intention of privatising the transport corporation. “Please invite all employee unions of the RTCs to discuss their issues in a transparent and democratic way, take them into confidence and address their issues by taking appropriate action,” it stated.

However, union leaders are firm on the strike as planned. “We will not hold any protests due to Covid-19-linked restrictions but shall stay off duty. Earlier, the employees had gone on a four-day strike which had then impacted public transport. As many as 37,019 employees are part of these corporations which operate a fleet of 17,138 buses in different regions of the state.

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