Hyderabad: The Congress lashed out at Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for saying that the government would dismiss RTC employees if they went on strike.
In separate press conferences, AICC secretary and former MP V. Hanumantha Rao, party legislators T. Jeevan Reddy and G. Chinna Reddy alleged that Mr Rao was holding out threats like a dictator. They said RTC workers had played a key role in the statehood moment. They said that it was not proper of Mr Rao to say that he would close down the RTC if the staff went on strike and alleged that the corporation was suffering loses due to Mr Rao’s policies. Instead of resolving the issues, the state government was trying to prevent the workers from going on strike, they said.
Mr Hanumantha Rao said without asking anybody Mr Rao had sanctioned Rs 5 crore and 5 acres of land to caste associations to get votes but was threatening RTC staff when they asked for a salary increase.
Mr Chinna Reddy said pressure was increasing on drivers and conductors as the government was not filling vacancies. Mr Jeevan Reddy said the government has to hold the transport minister and the RTC chairman responsible for the RTC’s losses.
Talks fail, RTC staff set to go on strike from June 11
No breakthrough could be achieved in talks held on Friday between the state government and the TSRTC employees unions over the strike called by the unions from June 11 demanding a hike in salary.
Transport minister P. Mahender Reddy held talks with the RTC unions in the Secretariat and urged them to withdraw the strike in the interest of TSRTC but, the unions remained non-committal and said they would make their stand clear on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s warning on Thursday to sack the staff and close the RTC if they went on strike, triggered sharp protests from the unions in all districts. They stuck to their strike call, deman-ding a hike in pay and said they would not cow down to such threats.
During the talks, the minister informed uni-ons that TSRTC was in huge debt as only 11 depots out of a total of 97 in the state were running in profit. He said that the RTC’s debt burden currently stood at Rs 3000 crore on which it was paying `250 crore interest per year. Besides, RTC had been incurring losses of `700 crore per year.
“If the government approves the salary hike demand, it will put an additional burden of Rs 1,400 crore per year on the RTC, which it cannot afford to bear,” Mr Reddy noted. He urged the unions to work hard to bring the RTC back into profitability first and said the government was ready to extend all the financial assistance for this.
“If you go on strike, a situation will arise where the TSRTC needs to be shutdown unable to bear losses. Let us all work together to strengthen the RTC first and then we can think of salary hikes and other demands,” he suggested.
However, the unions did not give any assura-nce on withdrawing the strike.
Employees Union JAC Chairman Ashwad-hama Reddy said, “We will discuss among ourselves the suggestions made by the governme-nt on Saturday and ma-ke our stand clear, whe-ther to go on strike or postpone it for the time being.”