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RTC strike: Decision on invoking ESMA depending on situation, says Karnataka CM

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Belagavi, Apr 07: With bus services being hit across the state, due to the strike by road transport corporations employees, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Wednesday indicated that a decision on invoking Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) will be taken depending on the situation.

RTC strike: Decision on invoking ESMA depending on situation, says Karnataka CM

Pointing out that the public were inconvenienced, he called on striking employees to get back to work. The CM also alleged that "selfish motives" of some people were behind the strike.

"We have fulfilled 8 of their (workers) nine demands, despite this they are adamant and have stopped buses, and are creating trouble for the public. I appeal to them, get back to work, we can talk," Yediyurappa said.

Speaking to reporters here, he said the government has agreed for an 8 per cent increase in salary as an interim relief, but it cannot be implemented immediately as the model code of conduct is in place and a letter has been sent to the Election Commission seeking permission.

"Though we have made alternate arrangements with the help of private operators, still they (RTC workers) going for a strike, which is wrong... they should not give room for us to take strict measures and cooperate," he added.

Workers of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) and North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC), under the banner of Karnataka State Road Transport Employees League, have given a call for strike from April 7.

The protest is against the government's "failure" to implement a salary under the 6th Pay Commission for the RTC workers. Alleging that despite knowing the reality some people were behind the strike for their "selfish motive", Yediyurappa said we will wait and see today and tomorrow and take strict action depending on the situation.

Asked if the government will invoke Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), he said, "we are discussing everything, depending on the situation, we will take appropriate decisions."

The employees' league has decided to go ahead with the strike, despite the government warning of strict action and ruling out any negotiations with them. The government had also made clear that the implementation of the 6th pay commission for transport workers was not possible, but has agreed for an 8 per cent increase in salary as an interim relief.

Responding to a question on complaints regarding private services including buses, autos and cabs charging exorbitantly, the CM said strict instructions have been given in this regard and on receiving any complaint action will be taken. "I appeal to them (private operators) not to charge exorbitantly taking advantage of the situation.. we will not allow it," he said.

Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi, who holds the Transport portfolio too said despite the government stating that it was ready for pay hike after permission from the election commission, some people have intentionally pushed for strike.

"I wont say those behind it are from political parties or others, it will be known in the days to come.." he said without revealing much. The DCM said some buses are operating and their numbers will increase in all the four corporations in two days.

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"Private buses are being provided facilities at our bus terminals to operate from. They have been allowed to operate without permit, but with insurance for the convenience of the passengers. In two days we will increase their numbers and from tomorrow about 4,000 private buses, those who have surrendered permits, will operate" he added.

Appealing to employees to get back to work, Savadi said income has completely stopped. "It will be difficult to pay salary in the days to come, as long as you continue the strike it will harm you.."

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