Thiruvananthapuram: The Opposition trade unions in the KSRTC began 24-hour strike on Friday after the conciliatory talks held with Transport Minister Antony Raju failed to break the ice over the unions' main demand for disbursal of salary before 5th of every month.
The Congress-led Transport Democratic Federation (TDF) and the BJP-affiliated Kerala Transport Employees Sangh (KSTES) have called for the strike today. The AITUC-led KSTEU is also supporting the strike. Almost 51 percent KSRTC employees belonged to these three organisations.
But the CITU union, which has the support of 35 percent of employees, are not participating in the strike. The KSRTC management has declared dies non against the striking employees.
Financial crisis to deepen through strike: Minister
Meanwhile, the Minister said Thursday that the 24-hour strike will push the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) into deep financial crisis.
"This strike will also raise more hurdles in the path. Already the KSRTC is in a financial crisis, this will only make it worse," said Antony Raju.
The minister also blamed the RSS-backed trade union BMS of backing off from a verbal agreement it had during the conciliatory talks held here earlier. At the conciliation talks, the minister said that attempts would be made to disburse salary by 10th of this month. But this was not acceptable to unions.
"Last month the salaries were disbursed between 18-21. The government suggested to the management that salaries cannot be delayed beyond the 10th of this month. It was also said that from next month, the salaries will have to be paid by the 5th," said the minister.
"The INTUC had disagreed at the meeting itself, but CITU and BMS agreed. They told me to make a statement before the media and said they would endorse it later. But after the meeting BMS came out and said the opposite," he said.
At the time of signing the revised service-salary pact, the unions had demanded that salary be disbursed before 5th of every month. Last month, the salary was disbursed in the third week after Easter and Vishu.
CITU State president Anathalavattom Anandan, however, alleged that, the Opposition unions gave call for the strike without heeding to the request of the minister to wait for another five days and hence, it was politically motivated.
Maximum bus services to be operated: Biju Prabhakar
KSRTC MD Biju Prabhakar said that maximum number of bus services will be operated by the Corporation to avoid inconvenience caused to the public on the strike day. KSRTC-SWIFT buses will be pressed into service to avoid cancellation of long distance bus schedules.
He said that the management was trying to find out money for disbursing salary amidst the crisis caused by the acute diesel price hike. The salary of those who fail to report for duty unauthorisedly on the strike day will be cut. The officers should be present at the units full-time today. Only those who produce medical certificate issued by a doctor not below the rank of civil surgeon will be sanctioned leave.
Rs.82 cr needed monthly for disbursing salary
Monthly, the KSRTC needs Rs,82 crore for meeting salary expenses. Though the Finance Department has sanctioned Rs.30 crore for this month, money has not yet been transferred to the Corporation. Moreover, the KSRTC is in an acute crisis this week since it has to repay the overdraft amount of Rs.45 crore taken from the State Bank of India last month.
But the unions argued that the total revenue last month was Rs.158 crore and the crisis could have been averted had the management kept apart in the beginning itself a portion of money from the total revenue for salary payment.
But the management said that such a step was not feasible. The average daily collection is Rs.5.5 crore. Of this amount, Rs.93 lakh has to be given as loan repayment. The fuel cost comes around Rs.3.5 crore. So, the revenue after incurring all these expenses comes to around Rs.30 crore only. Of this, Rs.20 crore is usually incurred for spare parts and insurance expenses. So, practically, only Rs.10 crore is finally left, the management clarified.
So, in order to give salary for employees, the KSRTC needs Rs.75 crore from the government. But the Finance Department is ready to give only a maximum amount of Rs.30 crore on a monthly basis.