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Ongoing strike is longest in RTC history in Telugu states

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With the strike by employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) entering 28th day on Friday, it became the longest strike in the history of the Corporation in the Telegu states.

Over 48,000 employees of the state-owned public transport utility are on strike since October 5 to press for their 26 demands. Their main demand is the merger of the TSRTC with the government so that they are treated at par with the government employees.

K. Chandrashekhar Rao-led government has, however, rejected the merger demand, saying it would lead to similar demands from 56 other corporations.

The longest strike in RTC was in 2011 when buses remained off the roads for 27 days and the employees of the then Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) from Telangana region joined ‘Sakala Janula Samme’ or the mass strike to demand statehood for Telangana.

The third major strike in APSRTC was witnessed in 2001 when employees struck the work for 24 days, demanding a pay revision.

According to leaders of Joint Action Committee (JAC) of TSRTC employees’ unions the current strike is the worst as 10 employees had lost their lives. While three workers committed suicide, others died due to cardiac arrest.

The JAC leaders have blamed the state government for the deaths, as the Chief Minister declared that the employees ‘dismissed themselves’ by not joining duties, drove them to depression. The striking employees were also facing financial problems as they had not been paid salaries for the month of September.

TSRTC, which has accumulated losses of Rs 1,200 crore, said it has no money to pay the September salaries. The Corporation told Telangana High Court that it has Rs 7 crore while over Rs 200 crore was required to pay for the salaries.

The Corporation is suffering daily a loss of Rs1 to Rs 1.5 crore due to the strike as TSRTC is managing to operate partial services with the help of temporary employees.

On the direction of the high court, the TSRTC last week held talks with the leaders of the striking workers on the 21 demands excluding the merger demand, but it failed to find any solution to the stalemate.

At the previous hearing on October 28, the High Court asked the government whether it can to provide Rs 47 crore to meet some demands of the employees to end the strike. However, the government expressed its inability to do so on the ground that it gave the Corporation more funds than what it owes.

The current spell of the strike also turned into a rallying point for the opposition and all groups opposed to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), thus posing the first major challenge to Chandrashekhar Rao since Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.

Backed by the entire opposition, trade unions and students’ groups, the JAC had called for Telangana shutdown on October 19. This was the first shutdown against Chandrashekhar Rao, who had led many such protests during the Telangana movement.

At the public meeting organised by the JAC on October 30 in Hyderabad, the JAC and opposition leaders threatened a Million March like the one organised at the peak of the Telangana agitation. They slammed the Chief Minister for his adamant attitude and autocratic style of functioning.

KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, blamed the RTC union leaders and the opposition parties for the current situation. He remarked that the ‘TSRTC is finished and nobody can save it’. He said ‘by going on strike during festival season, the employees cut the very branch they were sitting on’.

Unfazed by the strike and the protests, the Chief Minister has asked the TSRTC officials to hire more private buses to run under the Corporation. He has also dropped hints of issuing permits to private operators. Though ruling out total privatisation of the TSRTC, he made it clear that the Corporation will not remain the same.

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RTC crisis a problem of all people, says Pawan

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The RTC JAC leaders and employees met and narrated their problems to Jana Sena founder Pawan Kalyan. Giving his response, Pawan offered to take an appointment to talk to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao. He would like to explain to KCR the seriousness of the issue. He said that RTC crisis is a problem of not just 48,000 employees but that of the people of whole state.

Pawan expressed concern that nearly 16 RTC employees committed suicides till now because of the growing fears on the fate of their livelihoods. He told the employees that he would take part in the JAC protest activities if KCR does not give his appointment to discuss the issue.

Senani has appealed to the employees not to take extreme step under any circumstances. He expressed confidence that a solution would be found to their problems sooner than later.

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Telangana RTC strike continues, court allows public meet

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The indefinite strike by employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) entered 25th day on Tuesday even as High Court allowed them to hold a public meeting in Hyderabad on Wednesday after the police denied them permission for the same.

There were no signs of an early end to the strike by over 48,000 employees of the state-owned transport utility with both the government and the employees sticking to their stands.

The High Court granted conditional permission to Joint Action Committee (JAC) of striking employees to hold a public meeting at Saroornagar in Hyderabad on Wednesday. JAC approached the court after the police denied permission for the same.

The court directed JAC to hold the public meeting from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m on Wednesday. Leaders of the striking employees had invited leaders of the unions of government employees, teachers and workers for the meeting.

Meanwhile, the High Court on Tuesday continued hearing the arguments on Public Interest Litigation (PILs) seeking direction to end the strike. The government submitted to the court it can’t provide Rs 47 crore required to meet some of the demands of the employees, saying it had already given to TSRTC more money than what ought to have been given.

The division bench headed by Chief Justice R. S. Chauhan once again took exception to the stand taken by the government and remarked why it can’t release the money to solve a problem which will provide relief to people of the entire state.

The court also found fault with the manner in which officials submitted only selected statistics while avoiding details of the money the government owed to the Corporation. It directed the government to submit the details by October 31 and adjourned the hearing to November 1.

Earlier, Advocate General (AG) B. S. Prasad informed the court that reimbursement arrears to RTC in undivided Andhra Pradesh were Rs 1,099 crore and out of this Telangana has to pay 42 per cent and Andhra Pradesh 58 per cent. The court was told that the issue of RTC bifurcation was still under the consideration of the Centre.

When AG informed the court that the government has so far given Rs 4,235 crore to RTC, the bench asked if this means the government need not pay the arrears towards reimbursement. The judges asked the government to clearly specify the arrears and not the amount given to RTC.

JAC counsel claimed that in addition to Rs 1,099 crore the government owed to RTC in undivided Andhra Pradesh, the Corporation has not received Rs 1,375 crore towards bus passes subsidy from 2014 to 2019. He said that the government owes another Rs 1,496 crore to RTC under the Municipal Act.

Earlier, Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao held a review meeting with top officials to discuss the points to be raised in the court during the hearing on PILs.

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Telangana RTC talks fail, strike continues

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Talks between the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) and striking employees on Saturday failed to resolve the impasse as the strike entered 22nd day.

After talks with TSRTC officials, leaders of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of employees said the strike would continue. However, they expressed readiness for another round of talks, if invited.

JAC convenor Ashwathama Reddy, who along three other co-convenors attended the talks, said the meeting took place amid restrictions and they were not even allowed to carry mobile phones. “They took away our phones. In the history of RTC, I have not seen such a meeting,” he said.

JAC co-convenor V.S. Rao said talks with even enemy countries are not held in such an environment.

They said the management confined the meeting to 21 demands, while the JAC wanted talks on all 26 demands and alleged it came to the meeting with a fixed agenda. “They wanted to hold talks only because of the court,” another co-convenor Raji Reddy said.

TSRTC managing director incharge Sunil Sharma said talks were held on the direction of the high court. JAC leaders left the meeting midway saying they would come back after consultations with other leaders, but didn’t return till late in the evening, he added.

The talks began in the afternoon after the TSRTC, acting on the direction of the Telangana High Court, extended an invitation to the JAC, which is spear-heading the strike to press for various demands, the main being TSRTC’s merger with the government.

The government had on Wednesday set up a committee of TSRTC officials to look into the demands, except the merger.

The committee submitted its report to the government on Friday. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao discussed the report with Transport Minister P. Ajay Kumar and officials. It was at this meeting that he directed the TSRTC to invite the JAC for talks.

The talks are being held two days before the next hearing of public interest litigations (PILs) in the high court. At the previous hearing last week, the court had asked the government to hold talks with the employees.

The strike by nearly 50,000 employees began on October 5. The government took a tough stand and declared the strike illegal and refused to hold talks.

KCR, as the chief minister is popularly known, said over 48,000 employees dismissed themselves by not joining the duty before the expiry of deadline. He threatened to deal firmly with those trying to disrupt TSRTC bus services with the help of temporary employees.

He also asked officials to recruit more drivers and conductors on temporary basis and hire more private buses.

The strike took political overtone with the entire opposition extending their support. JAC has been staging protests across the state. It also called a state-wide shutdown last week.

The strike witnessed suicide by two employees, while some others died of cardiac arrest, allegedly due to depression caused by the loss of job and non-receipt of salary.

KCR stated on Thursday the TSRTC had no money to pay salaries. He even remarked the TSRTC was finished and nobody could save it from shutting down. Blaming the union for the situation, he hinted that the government would go ahead with privatization of the corporation.

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RTC JAC thanks Telangana, announces action plan

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The RTC Joint Action Committee said that the Telangana bandh wae a huge success thanks to the support from the employees, people’s organisations and opposition parties all over. JAC Convenor Aswathama Reddy said that they would need the same support to take the strike to the next level. He announced the action plan for intensifying the agitation further.

Aswathama Reddy criticised KCR Circar for not opening talks with the JAC as per the orders of the High Court. Now, the agitation will be expanded. A huge public meeting will be held in the Osmania University campus on October 24. The students unions are also going to take part in the protests. It was from the OU campus that KCR intensified the Telangana agitation in united Andhra.

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Telangana shutdown hits transport services

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Amid incidents of stone pelting in a few places, the day-long shutdown began in Telangana on a call given by the employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC), whose indefinite strike entered the 15th day on Saturday.

Transport services were hit as a majority of the TSRTC buses remained confined to depots in Hyderabad and 32 other districts with protesting employees staging a sit-in to prevent the vehicles from coming out.

Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS), the biggest bus station in Hyderabad, wore a near deserted look as bus services to most of the destinations in Telangana and neighbouring states were suspended.

Adding to the woes of the commuters in Hyerabad, the Ola and Uber cab drivers also went on an indefinite strike from Saturday to press for their demands to regularise the cab aggregator market. The drivers’ association claimed that 50,000 cabs have gone off the roads.

The Opposition Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS), Jana Sena, Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), trade unions, various organisations of employees, teachers and workers, student bodies and people’s groups have given their support to the shutdown call of the striking TSRTC employees.

Police arrested leaders of the Opposition parties for staging protests along with the striking TSRTC employees at various places in the state. TJS president M. Kodandaram, TDP leaders L. Ramna and R. Chandrashekhar Reddy and leaders of the Left parties were arrested by the police.

Protesters pelted stones at a few places in Nizamabad district and at Wanaparthy, damaging four buses. Police made elaborate security arrangements in Hyderabad and other towns to prevent violence. TSRTC was operating few buses with the help of temporary employees and under police protection.

The shutdown was called by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of TSRTC employees, who have been on strike since October 5 to press for their demands, the main being TSRTC’s merger with the government.

JAC has blamed the government for the situation, saying it was not inviting them for talks despite the direction of the Telangana High Court.

The government has not only ruled out talks with the employees, but declared that 48,000 employees as ‘dismissed themselves’ by not joining the duty before the expiry of the deadline. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao has ruled out taking back these employees into TSRTC and has asked TSRTC to recruit more temporary employees and hire more private buses.

The strike has seen two TSRTC employees commit suicide as non-payment of salaries for September has enraged the staff.

The government has come under flak from the Opposition for taking a tough stand on the strike.

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Telangana RTC employees to go ahead with Oct 19 shutdown

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The striking employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) are going ahead with the state-wide shutdown on Saturday even as the Telangana High Court once again suggested to the TSRTC management to hold talks with the employees as early as possible.

With the government sticking to its stand, the strike continued on the 14th day on Friday and no imminent end appeared in sight, despite the case coming up for hearing in the High Court and the intervention by Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan.

More than 48,000 employees, who continued to stay away from work, are gearing up for Saturday’s shutdown. All opposition parties, people’s organizations, trade unions and student bodies have declared support to the shutdown call.

The shutdown is expected to affect the normal life, especially in Hyderabad as Ola and Uber cab drivers have also decided to go an indefinite strike from Saturday to press for their demands to regularise the cab aggregator market.

Since the beginning of strike by the TSRTC employees on October 5, people were relying heavily on cabs for travel.

The High Court, which resumed hearing on Public Interest Litigations (PILs) on the strike on Friday, once again suggested to TSRTC management to immediately begin the talks with the striking employees and inform the court of the measures taken.

The division bench headed by Chief Justice R. S. Chauhan adjourned the hearing to October 28.

It asked the government as to why it failed to appoint the Managing Director of TSRTC. The government cited the financial problems faced by the transport utility.

While the government once again outlined before the bench the steps taken by it to make alternate arrangements to minimize the inconvenience to people, the court noted that the continuing strike is adding to the woes of the commuters.

Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the striking employees told the court that neither the government nor the TSRTC management invited it for talks.

JAC Convenor Ashwathama Reddy told reporters that the strike was continuing and they would go ahead with the protest plans announced earlier. He reiterated that JAC is ready for talks. Though the government has ruled out the TSRTC’s merger with the government, Reddy said talks would cover all 26 demands.

There was no headway in breaking the impasse despite the intervention by Governor Soundararajan, who on Thursday called Transport Minister P. Ajay Kumar to know the arrangements made to ease the difficulty caused to commuters due to the strike.

Ajay Kumar deputed Transport Principal secretary Sunil Sharma to Raj Bhavan, who explained to her the alternate arrangements made.

The Governor’s move came after a delegation of BJP leaders called on her to complain that the continuing strike and the government’s failure to address the employees’ issues was causing severe inconvenience to people.

The strike already saw two employees committing suicide allegedly due to the tough stand taken by the government. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao had already announced that 48,000 employees dismissed themselves by not joining the duties before the expiry of the deadline. He ruled out talks with the striking employees and asked officials to not only recruit temporary employees but also hire more private buses.

TSRTC claims to be operating 75 per cent of buses services. The government remained confident of restoring normal operations by October 21 when the educational institutions will re-open after extended Dasara holidays.

The government, which extended the holidays for schools and colleges by a week, came under flak for adopting an “adamant” attitude on the demands by the employees.

JAC leader Ashwathama Reddy has even warned that the Chief Minister’s attitude could lead to a constitutional crisis.

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Left parties on fast in support of Telangana RTC employees

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Leaders of the Left parties and people’s organisations observed a day-long fast here on Thursday in support of the strike by employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC), which entered its 13th day.

Several leaders and activists of Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), other Left parties and people’s organisations participated in the mass hunger strike to show solidarity with the striking employees.

CPI-state Secretary Chada Venkat Reddy, CPI-M state Secretary Tammineni Veerabhadram and other leaders paid tributes to two employees, who committed suicide earlier this week to protest the government’s decision to sack 48,000 striking employees.

Professor Nageshwar, eminent academician Chukka Ramaiah, TSRTC Joint Action Committee leader Ashwathama Reddy also addressed the participants.

The speakers blamed the government for the TSRTC running into huge losses. Ashwathama Reddy pointed out that the government is collecting Rs 300 crore as tax on diesel every year. He demanded that the state government waive the tax on diesel as done in Tamil Nadu.

They said that while private buses are allowed to operate on profit-making routes, the TSRTC buses are run on loss-making routes.

Professor Nageshwar said the strike by employees was not for their salaries but for protection of the TSRTC. He alleged that the government is carrying out a false propaganda to blame employees for the TSRTC’s losses.

Meanwhile, police arrested scores of students at Osmania University when they were trying to take out a rally to Pragathi Bhavan, the official residence of the Chief Minister, in support of the TSRTC employees. Raising slogans against the government, the students tried to march from Arts College.

However, police locked both the gates of the campus and prevented students from coming out. There was heated argument between policemen and leaders of student groups like the SFI, the AISF and the PDSU. There was mild tension as the students tried to break the police cordon.

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Telangana Governor rushing to Delhi: RTC fallout

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The Modi government at the Centre is keeping a close watch on the unsavoury happenings during Telangana RTC strike. The Centre is getting minute-to-minute details of the outcome of KCR’s mass dismissal of over 48,000 employees. In this backdrop, Governor Tamilisai Sounderrajan is rushing to Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. She is expected to brief them about the latest political situation and mood among employees sections in the state.

KCR gave up his hostile stand but the RTC Joint Action Committee is not ready to soften its stance easily. Anti-TRS feelings are sweeping across the employees unions and opposition parties. This is evident from how CPI has withdrawn its support to TRS candidate in Huzurnagar at the last minute.

Governor’s Delhi visit has generated lot of anticipation in political circles. Sunderrajan has become centre of activity for all those who are organising anti-KCR protests these days. KCR’s mismanagement of RTC strike has become a good opportunity for the BJP high command to explore ways to destabilise the KCR government.

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Telangana RTC employees give KCR a taste of his own medicine

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Suicides, shutdowns, ‘Vanta varpu’ or cooking on roads and ‘Dhoom Dham’ or the cultural programme were all part of the movement for statehood to Telangana. With the employees of state-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC) using the same tactics for their ongoing strike, history appears to be repeating itself in Telangana.

K. Chandrashekhar Rao, under whose leadership the Telangana movement used all these tools as part of the strategy, is now at the receiving end.

Over 48,000 employees of RTC along with their family members on Sunday participated in ‘Vanta varpu’. They cooked the food and ate it by the roadside. The scenes were reminiscent of the Telangana agitation between 2009 and 2013.

The same day a RTC driver set himself ablaze in Khammam as he was depressed over the chief minister sacking all the striking employees. The next day a conductor hanged himself in Hyderabad as he, like all other striking employees, had not received the salary for September and a cheque he had issued towards his EMI for home loan had bounced.

At least three other employees tried to commit suicide, giving a serious turn to the strike that began on October 5.

The decision of Joint Action Committee (JAC), comprising RTC employee unions, to launch indefinite strike was the first major challenge to KCR in six years. They had a list of 26 demands, the main being RTC’s merger with the government.

Acting tough, KCR issued an ultimatum to workers to return to work by 6 p.m. on October 5 but only a few did. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) boss did not like the open defiance, saying trade unions which went on strike under previous governments can’t dare to use the same weapon against his government.

He hit back by declaring that only 1,200 employees remained in RTC. For him, all other employees stood self-dismissed for not joining the duty before the expiry of the deadline.

“His stern warning was ridiculed as no one returned to work. In fact his statement that there are only 1,200 in RTC proved grand success of the strike,” political analyst Telakapalli Ravi told IANS.

Often criticized by his opponents for dictatorial attitude, KCR ruled out taking back the striking employees and announced that no talks will be held with them. Further angering the striking employees, he unveiled plans to recruit temporary drivers and other employees and use more private buses. He directed the police chief to deal firmly with any attempt to disrupt the bus services being operated by RTC with the help of temporary staff.

The analyst says KCR stood exposed for his double standards on strike. “His stand on strikes was different earlier. He changed the stand as it suits him. He also proved his eagerness to privatise RTC,” said Ravi.

By not paying September salaries to employees, especially during the festival time, KCR invited more criticism from the employees and the opposition who called him ‘arrogant’.

The occasion provided an opportunity to all his rivals including those who were with him during Telangana movement to come on a common platform. This was something never witnessed since formation of Telangana.

Student groups too joined the protest in support of the striking employees to corner KCR. Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) leader M. Kodandaram, who was with KCR during Telangana movement, also called for another ‘Sakala Janula Samme’ or the mass strike which had lasted for six weeks in 2011 mounting pressure on the Centre.

Sensing that government employees could also join hands with RTC employees, the chief minister adopted ‘divide and rule’ policy by inviting the leaders of the government employees and promising to address their pending issues including pay revision.

The daily protests by striking RTC employees had started rattling the TRS. The party leaders were also worried over the impact this could have on the party’s prospects in October 21 by-election to Huzurnagar Assembly seat.

With the situation turning grim following suicide of two employees, KCR showed signs of softening his stand. Through his trusted aide and advisor K. Keshav Rao, he sent the feelers to the striking employees that the government is ready for talks.

“From refusing to take back the striking employees to now urging them to call off the strike and come forward for talks, it is a big climb-down by KCR,” said a political analyst.

With JAC too showing readiness to accept Keshav Rao’s mediation, this may be construed as a victory of the striking employees, irrespective of the outcome of talks.

Analysts say the strike by RTC employees broke the myth that no one can challenge KCR. “There is no doubt that KCR stands his authority challenged as never before. He may not be Ivan the Terrible anymore,” said Ravi, who believes that other employees in the state may take a cue from their counterparts in RTC.

Ravi also believes that the strike has given the opposition much need shot in the arm. Major opposition parties may now try to assert themselves and this could begin with Huzurnagar bypoll.

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TRS softens stand, urges transport employees for talks

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In the first sign of softening its stand on the ongoing transport strike, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) on Monday reached out to the striking employees by appealing to them to call off the protest.

As the strike by employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) took a serious turn with the suicide of a driver and a conductor, TRS parliamentary party leader K. Keshav Rao appealed to them to call of the strike before things get out of hand.

Keshav Rao, who is also TRS general secretary and a close aide of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, urged the employees to sit for talks with the government on all demands except merger of TSRTC with the government.

The senior leader, in a statement, claimed that the TRS government is always considerate to the issues of RTC employees.

Stating that suicide is not a solution to any problem, the Rajya Sabha member said he was deeply pained by the suicides of the two employees.

Keshav Rao, who headed the TRS committee to draft the party manifesto for the 2018 Assembly elections, said the party never promised TSRTC’s merger with the government.

His statement is the first reaction by the government to the situation following suicide of two employees. It indicates that the government is ready to take back the employees into TSRTC provided they call off the strike and give up the demand for the transport entity’s merger with the government.

TSRTC’s merger with the government is the main demand by the employees, whose indefinite strike entered the 10th day on Monday.

Adopting a tough stand on the strike, the Chief Minister had ruled out taking back 48,000 employees into TSRTC as they failed to return to duty before the expiry of the deadline. He had also ruled out talks with them.

Meanwhile, Joint Action Committee (JAC) of TSRTC employees’ unions, said it welcome mediation by Keshav Rao. JAC convenor Ashwathama Reddy said if invited for talks they would participate in it.

He claimed that Chandrashekhar Rao himself had promised that the TSRTC employees will be treated on par with other government employees.

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APSRTC makes huge profits out of TSRTC Strike

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For a change, it is advantage to Andhra while Telangana is facing a crisis due to RTC Strike. Till now, there is one way traffic. KCR went on plundering resources of Andhra one by one and thereby he won the hearts of Telangana society. But RTC Strike has reversed the trend, hopefully.

Andhra officials say that the APSRTC made a record profit of Rs 229 Cr during this festival season. This is Rs 20 Cr in excess of the 2018 dasara season profit of Rs 209 Cr. This could be possible as APSRTC swung into action and actively cashed in on the ongoing RTC Strike in the neighbouring state.

APSRTC Officials ran services to more routes in Telangana during dasara season from September 27 to October 13. Over 6000 special services were operated. All these buses ran packed with passengers. APSRTC achieved 103 occupancy ratio during the season. From this, it is clear how KCR showdown with his state employees benefitted Andhra.

Analysts say that the worst phase is over for Andhra. Telangana society no longer listens to anti-Andhra sentiment but it is demanding better opportunities and jobs from KCR Regime.

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Another Telangana RTC employee commits suicide

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A conductor of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) committed suicide on Sunday, hours after a driver, who attempted self-immolation on Saturday, died at a hospital here.

Depressed over losing his job over the ongoing strike, Surender Goud hanged himself at his house in Karwan area in Hyderabad.

The conductor, who was associated with Ranigunj bus depot in the city, was worried over not receiving the salary for September and was unable to pay EMI for his house loan. The cheque he had issued towards paying the EMI had bounced.

Surender Goud took the extreme step hours after TSRTC driver Srinivas Reddy succumbed to the burn injuries at a hospital here.

Srinivas Reddy, who set himself afire in Khammam town and sustained critical injuries, breathed his last at the Apollo DRDO Hospital, where he was admitted late on Saturday.

The driver had resorted to the extreme step during a protest by TSRTC employees, whose indefinite strike entered the ninth day on Sunday.

The employee unions have alleged that the driver was depressed over losing his job as Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has announced that over 48,000 employees dismissed themselves by not joining duty before the deadline set by the government. The Chief Minister has ruled out taking back the employees into TSRTC and has asked the officials to recruit new staff.

The driver’s death triggered tension near the hospital in Kanchanbagh area as leaders of TSRTC employee unions and opposition parties reached there and staged a protest against the government, blaming it for the employee’s death.

The protestors raised slogan against the government and the police had a tough time in controlling the crowd at the hospital.

Tension prevailed in Khammam district as incidents of stone pelting on TSRTC buses were reported since Saturday evening.

Amid tight security, Srinivas Reddy’s body was shifted to Khammam town, where his last rites were performed on Sunday night.

TSRTC employee unions have called for a shutdown in Khammam on Monday to protest over the self-immolation of Srinivas Reddy.

Meanwhile, another driver of Khammam depot, Venkateshwara Chary, has attempted self-immolation. He poured petrol on himself but his colleagues and the police stopped him from taking the extreme step.

The striking employees on Sunday intensified their protest by resorting to ‘vanta varpu’, or cooking on roads, along with their family members.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of TSRTC employees unions has announced week-long protest programmes. It has also called for a state-wide shutdown on October 19.

The Chief Minister has rejected all the demands of the striking employees, including the main one for merger of TSRTC with the government. He also ruled out talks with them.

With the Chief Minister directing TSRTC to restore 100 per cent bus services in three days, the TSRTC on Sunday issued a notification for recruitment of bus drivers, conductors and other employees on temporary basis.

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TSRTC driver attempts self-immolation, tension in Khammam

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The ongoing indefinite strike by the employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) on Saturday took a new turn with a driver attempting self-immolation, triggering violent protest by others in Khammam district.

Tension prevailed in the district following incidents of stone pelting on the TSRTC buses at few places. Unknown protestors stopped buses being operated by temporary drivers, forced the passengers to get down and then attacked the vehicles. No one was injured in these incidents.

The driver identified as Srinivas Reddy poured kerosene and set himself afire on Saturday at Khammam RTC depot as the strike entered eighth day. His son was also injured while trying to save him. The driver’s condition is stated to be critical.

The incident triggered protests by striking employees in Khammam town and other parts of the district. Protestors near Khammam district collector’s office damaged the window panes of a RTC bus and attacked the temporary driver.

As TSRTC is operating buses with temporary staff, three incidents of attacks on temporary drivers occurred in Khammam.

Striking employees and leaders of opposition parties staged protests, blaming Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government for the driver’s attempted self-immolation.

They said Srinivas Reddy was depressed after losing the job. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao has announced that 48,000 striking employees dismissed themselves by not joining the duty before the expiry of the government deadline. He ruled out taking back these employees into TSRTC.

Tension also prevailed at Bus Bhavan, TSRTC headquarters in Hyderabad when BJP president K. Laxman led a protest by striking employees. Laxman sustained minor injury near his eye when police bodily lifted the protestors and arrested them.

Joint Action Committee (JAC) of TSRTC employees unions on Saturday decided to further intensify the strike. It called for state-wide shutdown on October 19.

The chief minister rejected all the demands of the striking employees including the main demand for merger of TSRTC with the government. He also ruled out talks with them.

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