93% schedules hit by token stir

24-hour strike began at midnight on Feb. 22, services to be restored today

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation schedules, 93% of them, did not ply during the 24 hour-strike that began on Monday midnight by the INTUC-affiliated Transport Democratic Federation (TDF) and the BMS-affiliated Kerala State Transport Employees Sangh (KSTES), the two recognised unions of the KSRTC.

Of the total 5,829 schedules operated daily, the State transport undertaking was able to operate only 413 schedules (7%) in the State on Tuesday. In the south zone based in Thiruvananthapuram, only 152 schedules were operated. The Central zone based in Ernakulam ran 131 schedules, and Kozhikode-based north zone ran 130 schedules during the strike period.

In the 45 depots across the State, the KSRTC could not operate even one service. Though KSRTC has not been able to resume full schedules after pandemic-induced lockdown, it operated 3,800 schedules on Monday till the strike began.

Office-goers and students, especially from the rural areas, were the worst hit by the lack of the KSRTC services. The private stage carriers came in handy for the commuters in the three major cities. The KSRTC also operated the non-stop Buses on Demand (BonD) services much to the relief of the office-goers.

The unions are demanding withdrawal of the move to float KSRTC-SWIFT, an independent company to operate long-distance buses using contract staff, immediate revision of salary, disbursal of nine instalments of Dearness Allowance, takeover of pension, revival of dying-in-harness scheme, and end to punitive transfers.

Although the CITU-affiliated Kerala State Road Transport Employees Association, the third recognised union in the KSRTC, and the AITUC-backed union, and other unions did not support the strike, the TDF and the KSTES claimed that ‘all employees participated in the strike and that the token strike was a big success’.

TDF president Thampanoor Ravi said the government should be ready to make corrections on the revival plan for the KSRTC and immediately revise the salary of the personnel based on the response to the strike. General secretary of KSTES K.L. Rajesh said the KSRTC should be converted into a service department taking into account the role it played in public transport.

No untoward incident was reported during the strike period. The agitating employees took out marches in the depots and in the State capital. The KSRTC officials said the services would be restored by Wednesday morning.

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