Karnataka: 14 days later, transport stir petering out as 7,848 govt buses hit the road

BENGALURU: Bus users across the state can hope for some relief soon as the indefinite strike called by the state transport employees is fast losing steam.
The stir, which began on April 7, will enter its 15th day on Wednesday. However, State Transport Undertakings (STUs) are planning full-fledged operations. Four STUs, including KSRTC and BMTC, operated 7,848 buses on Tuesday.

On Monday, they had run 5,929 buses.
“On Tuesday, we operated more than 40% of buses. The number will go up in the coming days as more employees are returning to duty. But the number of passengers travelling in buses has reduced due to spike in Covid-19 cases,” said a senior transport department official, adding that more than 50% of KSRTC buses are operational.
“Both NEKRTC and NWKRTC are operating 45% schedules each.

BMTC is running 35% of its fleet. We are hoping for normal operations from Thursday. But union leaders are misleading some employees through fake messages circulated on social media,” said an official.
He said the striking union has no other option but to withdraw its agitation. “Now, the high court also stated that the strike is untimely.

So they will be forced to withdraw it,” the official added.
Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation Employees’ League, which launched the indefinite strike to press for a pay hike, said they will continue with it. R Chandrashekhar, president of the league, said: “We didn’t approach the court. We have also not received the court order yet.

We will decide on the next course of action after getting advice from our legal team on Wednesday.”
Sources say the state government’s reluctance to negotiate, coupled with arm-twisting tactics, forced many employees to join duty. “We have been waiting for a compromise but the government is adamant. How long can we afford to strike? They have not even given us our March salary.

But our anger will reflect in the upcoming elections,” said a BMTC conductor, who reported to work on Tuesday.
“A majority of them are trainees and probationary staff, who didn’t report to duty. In KSRTC, errant employees were transferred to other districts, but this is not possible with BMTC as it operates only in Bengaluru,” said an official. However, STUs revoked suspension of 56 employees, including 47 in KSRTC.
Officials said 114 buses of four STUs have been damaged so far and around 467 employees were involved in the act.

Of this, 112 have been arrested.

STUs also filed 52 FIRs against 232 employees under KESMA Act and arrested 55 of them.