K'taka : Bus strike called off; govt succumbs to pressure

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Karnataka bus strike
Bangalore, Sept 15: With Bangaloreans and people in the other parts of Karnataka flummoxed with the bus strike called by the KSRTC and the BMTC, the woes will end soon as the strike was called off after the government agreed to consider the 30 per cent pay hike demand. The consensus was reached following a marathon meeting between Transport Minister R Ashok and various bus unions late Friday night. An official announcement is yet to be made in this regard.

R Ashoka, holding additional responsibility as the Transport Minister said that the strike by the Joint Committee of Trade Unions of State Road Transport Undertakings had been withdrawn with immediate effect. The cost of calling off the strike would put an additional burden of Rs 250 crore on the four transport corporations over the next four years. "Such an agreement was due only in January 2016," he added.

Ashoka said the unions’ main demand for merging the Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA) of 76 per cent with the Basic Salary (after the 10 per cent hike) with effect from April 1, 2012, had been accepted.For the purpose of looking into the employees' demands, a committee that will also include the trade union representatives will be formed and the matter sorted out in a gap of a month.

Ashoka also added that all those employees arrested will be released and notices against others withdrawn. Showcause notices served on trainee employees also would be withdrawn, Ashoka promised. He was however apprehensive of absorbing thousands of trainee staff as regulars. As a relief, they will however be paid an additional Rs 1,000 a month from Sept, which would make their monthly salary to Rs.8,000 a month.

With 90 percent buses choosing to keep off roads, office goers, students and the general public were having a bad time. The autorickshaw drivers and private bus operators were making use of the situation and fleecing commuters who had no option but to rely on them. The private buses and cabs commissioned by the state government was grossly insufficient to handle the people. As many as 2,000 private buses and over 20,000 cabs were used in this regard.

Additional commissioner of police (Traffic and Security), M.A Saleem has been quoted as saying, "We had to deploy additional cops including the law and order police to regulate the traffic during peak hours. And we had to ask the first shift traffic police to continue working in the evening."

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