The Telangana High Court on Monday directed the Labour Commissioner to take a decision, within two weeks, on the 45-day long strike by the employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice R. S. Chauhan asked the Labour Commissioner to decide whether to move the Labour Court or not.
Reiterating that the High Court can’t decide whether the strike is illegal or not, the bench observed that the Labour Court has power to do so.
The latest order is being seen as a shot in the arm for the state government in the 45-day long standoff with the striking employees. While arguing that the strike is illegal, the government had urged the court to direct the Labour Department to take further action as the continuing strike was causing huge losses to the TSRTC.
Hearing Public Interest Litigations (PILs) and other petitions with regard to the strike, the court also made it clear that it can’t force the government to hold talks with the employees as the talks have to be held voluntarily and in a cordial manner.
The counsel for Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the striking employees told the court that the employees are ready to call off the strike and join their duties but the TSRTC Managing Director stated in his affidavit that the employees can’t be taken back. He requested the bench to direct the government and the TSRTC to take back the employees and not to trouble them after they join the duties.
The bench observed that the court has its own limitation but hoped that if the employees call off the strike and return to their duties, the government or the TSRTC will not take any action against them.
Meanwhile, JAC convenor Ashwathama Reddy called off his indefinite fast at government-run Osmania Hospital. He had launched an indefinite fast at his residence on Saturday but the police forcibly shifted him to the hospital on Sunday as his condition had started deteriorating. He, however, continued the hunger strike in the hospital.
Reddy called off the fast after leaders of various opposition parties called on him and persuaded him to end the protest.
The JAC leader said a decision on the strike would be taken after the receipt of the court order. He said respecting the court order, the JAC decided to postpone Tuesday’s ‘sadak bandh’.
The indefinite strike by over 48,000 employees of RTC entered 45th day on Monday. Though the JAC last week announced temporarily dropping the main demand of the TSRTC’s merger with the government, the latter gave no indication of any imminent talks to break the impasse.