Kochi: The 1,565 empanelled drivers of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), who face the threat of being dismissed from service following a court order, stare at a bleak future as the private sector could absorb only a "few".
The various bus organisations, which promised jobs for empanelled conductors who earlier faced a similar situation, cite that there are only a few vacancies for drivers."It will be difficult to accommodate them as we've only few vacancies. For instance, I've two buses and already employ three drivers. However, we'll try to take them whereever we've vacancies," said Lawrence Babu, general secretary, Kerala State Private Bus Operators Association.
An empanelled driver is paid Rs 500 for a single duty, almost the half enjoyed by permanent drivers, while the driver of a private bus will get a minimum Rs 800.
"I joined the corporation back in 2010 and was hopeful of getting a permanent employee status with my experience. I came to know about the court order just as I took back the bus to garage after my duty today. I felt pain and was heartbroken as I enjoyed my job all these years," said Santosh T.K., one among the four empanelled drivers of Ernakulam unit.
There is still some hope for them as the corporation is set to appeal against the high court order.
"We'll take expert legal advice on the matter and look at options like going for appeal or seeking more time. I've entrusted the KSRTC Managing Director and the Transport Secretary to look for alternative solutions," said transport minister A.K. Saseendran.
"We'll study the court order and take a decision after consulting with the state government," said KSRTC MD M.P. Dinesh.
The court directed to implement the order before April 30 and sought appointment of new drivers from the 2013 PSC rank list. The order, if implemented, will affect services but the management aims to tide over the crisis by reshuffling existing drivers judiciously.
"Earlier we've posted drivers to their home depots and the same have resulted in some of them not getting enough duty hours. We plan to redeploy them after the election (April 23) so that the key services won't get affected," said a senior KSRTC official....