Hyderabad: On a day of fast-paced developments, signs emerged on Tuesday that there could be some forward movement to resolve the ongoing strike by TSRTC employees. The Telangana Employees Joint Action Committee (TEJAC) got into the act saying it will take the case of the striking RTC workers to Chief Secretary SK Joshi on Wednesday. The TEJAC also said it was concerned about the strike and was under pressure from government employees from across the districts about RTC employees’ welfare, and announced that it stands with the RTC workers in their strike.
Earlier in the day, the Telangana High Court had some advice for the RTC unions and the government. The court advised the unions that they should consider calling off their strike in view of the hardships being faced by people in the State and also urged the government to hold talks.
Hearing the matter on the strike in a packed court, a bench of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy specifically pointed out that while the court would desist from directing either party to take a specific stance at this stage, it would not hesitate to do so at the appropriate time. The Chief Justice also conveyed that in view of the government applying ESMA, the court may not hesitate to declare the strike illegal.
Elsewhere, TEJAC chairman Karem Ravinder Reddy told the media after a meeting here with TSRTC JAC convener Ashwathama Reddy and others, that the TNGOs Association met on Tuesday and decided to express support to the strike. Another meeting will be held on Wednesday that will include TGO Association representatives following which a formal announcement will be made on where the TEJAC stands, vis-à-vis the strike by RTC workers.
There were also words of reconciliation from the two JACs as well as some hand-wringing over charges and counter-charges levelled by the two sides over the past couple of days on who said what about whom in view of the strike. But it became clear after the meeting with leaders of the JACs declaring faith in each other, and support for each other, that the primary objective of the two sides was welfare of the employees, whether they worked for the government or the TSRTC.
While Aswathama Reddy said the TNGOs and the TGOs were an inspiration for the RTC unions, the latter were upset because the circumstances made them believe that the government employees were not with them. “We express regret for what we had said about this. They have invited us for discussions and we thank them,” he said.
“We never expected that we in the RTC would ever have to strike work after Telangana was formed but the assurances given to us by a committee of ministers in the previous government were not fulfilled. As much as Rs 1,400 crore of provident fund contributions towards employees accounts were not deposited among other issues,” he said.
Ravinder Reddy too struck a similar note and said he would meet the Chief Secretary on Wednesday and present to him the case of the RTC workers. “We have always appealed to the RTC workers to join us in our struggles as was the case during the Sakalajanula Samme during the statehood movement. They extended their support to us then. We have to stand by them now. Our fellow workers are facing a crisis and losses. We ask the government only one thing — invite the RTC unions for talks. That is what we want,” he said.
The two suicides by RTC workers, he said, were very disturbing and there were increasing calls to the TEJAC from government employees in all the districts to support the striking RTC workers. Ravinder Reddy also expressed hope that the solution to the RTC strike could pave the way for solving issues faced by employees and placed before the government by TEJAC. “RTC should not face troubles and its health is important so its workers remain happy. The TEJAC goal is to protect interests of every employee,” he said.
The TEJAC will join all the activities being organised by the striking RTC workers, Ravinder Reddy said, adding that the government had the responsibility of ensuring welfare of employees and workers in the State.