The strike by about one lakh 25 thousand RTC workers for 24 days demanding salary amendments, cut backs of taxes on buses and other things, ended on November 8. Passengers, who faced many odd problems in the past 30 days, sighed in relief, as the buses started plying on roads from the early hours of November 8th. And the roads that wore deserted-look were now again busy with people and buses.
The strike that disappointed people of the State, since it had started during Dassara festivities, ended luckily before Diwali. Infact, the strike would have ended much earlier had the Government and RTC Management came down of their pedestal of adamant thinking. RTC workers Joint Action Committee (JAC) at first strongly felt that, Rs.185 crores every year would cover the salaries and wages, the crunch which occurred due to private operators transportation. However even when the demands came down drastically, unfortunately both RTC Management and Government could not utilise the opportunity. Hence the strike continued and the problem dragged on. Many criticised that the adamant attitude of the Government, RTC Management and the striking workers contributed for the strike to continue for 24 days and people of the State to face situations. However, the JAC does not accept such criticism, and says that they even stooped down to make way for both RTC Management and the Government to discuss and solve the problem. It also said that, since both the parties missed that opportunity, JAC had to continue the strike.
Chief Minister Mr. N.Chandrababu Naidu had formed a Cabinet sub-committee to discuss the problem with the JAC and maintain balance. However, he himself lost his patience and blamed the RTC worker’s demands as senseless, which is deplorable. At one point, Chief Minister suggested that there would be nothing wrong if the RTC were privatised. He even expressed his opinion of privatisation of RTC as people’s opinion and asked ‘Is privatisation a devil?’ which created doubts about further continuation of the strike.
However, all the trade unions, employees associations, left and main opposition party Congress along with some other associations expressed full support to the striking employees and even gave call for State-wide bundh on 8th of November. This turn of events to the worse created doubt among people of the State that the strike would not end soon.
Meanwhile, members of the Cabinet Sub-committee, intellectuals in ruling Telugu Desam Party alerted the Chief Minister that the result of the strike would have adverse impact on their party in the State. Hence, Chief Minister decided to end the strike. Just few hours before the general strike, during the late hours of 7th, Government came to an agreement with the striking workers for amendments in RTC salaries and to curb illegal private bus transportations.
RTC Managing Director Mr.R.P.Singh, Executive Director (Administration) Mr. I.Prabhakar Reddy, Financial Advisor Mr.G.Someswara Rao on behalf of RTC Management and RTC Employees Union Secretary General Mr.B.Rama Rao, National Mazdoor Union General Secretary Mr.P.Ram Mohan Rao on behalf of JAC signed the agreement.
Details of Agreement
- An expenditure of Rs.125 crores for RTC employee scales and wages every year. All employees who were on regular roles by 1-4-2001 would receive this benefit. The hike in scales would be implemented from 1-4-2001 and wages from 1-11-2001. This agreement would be implemented for four years from 1-4-2001.
- Government would finalise ways and means within two months, under which accounts the Government would release Rs.125 crores.
- It decided to increase the return money to RTC drivers who are involved in accidents cases, 25 per cent towards court fees etc.
- Cases on employees who got national trade certificate before 1992 would be solved in view of the Mechanical Grade-2 post promotions. The Administrative Circular would be amended, if necessary, at this juncture.
- There will be an increase in festival advances. It will be from Rs.1,000 to Rs.1,500 for Class III and Rs.750 to Rs.1,000 for Class IV employees.
- There is an increase in allowance for handicapped employees. Currently they get Rs.175 per month and it would be Rs.300 here after.
- The service of MBF (SWF) staff before joining in RTC would be taken into account for their Gratuity.
- There would be an increase in Staff Benefit Fund for every RTC employee from Rs. 3.25 to Rs.5.
- RTC employees would also get Earned Leaves on par with State Government employees every time it is upgraded.
- To streamline employees, all the regulations will be taken into consideration after completion of five years of service.
- Maternal leaves for RTC women employees will be increased from 84 days to 120 days (for two children only).
- Government would rethink about the present Incentive Schemes for recognised Union representatives.
- Employees will be given bus passes for one month during non-rush season.
- On an experimental basis, uniforms would be distributed to the employees depot wise. If the ready made garments are not suitable, then they would continue the present system.
- 50 per cent subsidy will be given to the retired employees in RTC buses (Only for one PTO). An agreement was reached to implement the subsidy to the city services also.
- RTC Management is studying the ‘Bread winner Scheme’ presently in State Government.
- RTC Management would form institutions eligible to transport the dead bodies of the employees and their family members, who died in Tarnaka hospital and hospitals in other areas.
- Budget allocations to increase the scholarship permits for the children of RTC employees who are in professional courses training.
- Funeral charges for the dead RTC employees will be increased from Rs.1000 to Rs.2000.
- Milk would be supplied to the employees working in FIP section of the workshops.
- Government would study the chances of promotions to 2,3,4 class employees along with blind employees.
- Rest Rooms for women conductors in necessary areas would be constructed.
- There will be fifty-percent discount in RTC Marriage Halls for the marriage functions of retired employee children.
- Notices will be distributed to employees in local languages.
- Quality of canteens in RTC Head quarters would be checked.
- Drivers’ seats in buses will be checked and changed regularly, for better comfort.
- Casual workers services would be regularised overlooking the rule of completion of 240 days as per the rules passed from time to time.
- Government would discuss the amendments in employee regulations with recognised Unions.
- A special committee would be formed with officials and representatives of recognised unions to find the causes for regular strikes, which troubles the public and leads to RTC’s financial crunch.
- Government would discuss with recognised Unions when it introduces TIMS in district areas. Until the orders are passed, TIMS will not be introduced in the cities.
- Government would discuss with recognised Unions on APPC report presented regarding AD/PD and SPDs working estimates.
- It will also rethink about the transfer orders already issued for the AD/PD and SPD employees to other departments.
- Duty schedules would be changed to get high productivity in services according to Motor Transport Workers Act.
- Though Supreme Court announced its judgement in favour of the Management, there will be May Day holiday to employees of all Depots.
- There will be dual discussions regularly with recognised Unions on increase in productivity, I.R problems and other service matters.
- One ADC (Technical) post will be filled by promoting maintenance staff in every Depot without creating additional post.
Though it called off the strike due to problems faced by passengers, people of backward classes and after reaching an agreement, there is difference of opinion in some unions in JAC on the agreement.
Workers win – AITU
AITUC State Committee General Secretary Mr.Potloori Nageswara Rao thanked the RTC workers and employees for their unity during the 24-day historic strike.
AITUC thanked National Mazdoor Union, Staff and Workers’ Federation and other workers unions; it specially thanked the JAC for its leadership for making the strike peaceful.
AITUC State Committee felt that though the workers went on strike for the benefit of the RTC, it really succeeded with people’s support.
RTC workers succeeded to get high amendments in scales for the first time. They also awakened the people of the State that the cause of the RTC burden is due to the management’s dual policy, even when it laid 15 per cent tax burden on the RTC buses, the AITUC felt.
The RTC workers strike that went on for 24 days, in fact aimed to save the RTC in the government sector, and to get amendments in salaries. By succeeding, it taught that the unity among unions could fight and win anything against adamant management.
RTC received a loss of Rs.17 crores due to government’s adamant nature in solving the workers strike. It has lost some crores of rupees in revenue from motor vehicles tax and sales tax.
Government has agreed to reduce the motor vehicles tax on RTC buses from 15 per cent to 12.5 per cent in rural areas and from 15 per cent to 10 per cent in urban areas. This would lessen a tax burden of Rs.70 crores to RTC.
RTC had a burden of about Rs.250 crores, because of the Government provision of discounts to different passengers. Out of this, Government has agreed to pay Rs.100 crores to RTC. More over, there will be Rs.90 crores less in tax burden to RTC due to exemption in motor vehicles tax on 526 buses plying for rythu bazaars.
However, motor vehicles tax rates on RTC buses on par with private buses has to be clarified in the near future. RTC employees and management should strive efficiently to increase its profits, by increasing the percentage of passengers, curtailing unnecessary expenditures and by working efficiently.
By P. Damodar Prasad