Half a month has gone by since the employees and workers of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation began their indefinite strike. It is four days since the High Court also made its displeasure known towards both the Joint Action Committee of RTC unions and the government for the continuing impasse that has affected the general public more than the parties in question. The government has taken a tough stand, rightfully so, and the JAC remains adamant that it will not call off the strike to facilitate any breakthrough, though the former has indicated that it was willing to thrash out a solution for the larger picture of stabilising the ailing corporation. One cannot blame the government for its no-nonsense approach, given various factors, and more importantly the TSRTC’s balance sheet that clearly indicates a very unhealthy trend. And then you cannot have any government trying to figure out solutions to problems at the point of a gun, that too at opportune times like festivals. Facts and figures, as they say, speak for themselves, and it is no different in the case of TSRTC. Post State formation in 2014, the TRS government did make every effort to save the sinking ship that the TSRTC was, pumping in as much as Rs 4,253 crore in five years compared with Rs 712 crore from 2009-14, marking a mind-boggling 6-fold increase in government funding. Despite these efforts, the corporation is in the red with accumulated debts touching Rs 5,000 crore, and with expenditure (Rs 5,881 crore) far outstripping income (Rs 4,882 crore), There is little that the government can do than mull a total revamp of the structure and functioning of the TSRTC.
When it comes to salaries, the TSRTC employees hardly have any room to complain given the fact that their pay packets became heavier by 67%, including a 44% fitment, a largesse extended by the government immediately after the State formation in acknowledgment of the employees’ commitment to the statehood cause. A quick comparison of the TSRTC employees’ salary share in the income generated with that of other public utilities virtually seals the argument in government’s favour. While the TSRTC workers take out as much as 57.94% from the income generated for their salaries, the wages component of SCCL workers is a little over 35% of the income generated by the coal major, while power utilities employees take home 10% of the income generated as salaries. Yes, the unions and other vested interests can claim that in a democracy they have the right to voice their opinion through demonstrations, but at what cost, and how? Can you hold the very people that you serve to ransom? That is the million-dollar question, which only their conscience can answer!