Karnataka Deputy CM rejects transport workers' demand to be treated as govt employees

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi ruled out considering striking transport workers' demands to be treated as government employees, but said all legitimate needs within financial limitations are being looked into. 

  • Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi said all legitimate needs within financial limitations are being looked into.
  • The option of deploying private bus operators was being examined to minimise the hardship faced by commuters till the issue was resolved.
  • Certain relaxations would be given to private bus operators to run their vehicles to ensure that the public does not face any inconvenience.

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Karnataka Deputy CM rejects transport workers' demand to be treated as govt employees

Bengaluru: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi on Sunday (December 13) ruled out considering striking transport workers' demands to be treated as government employees, but said all legitimate needs within financial limitations are being looked into.

He said the option of deploying private bus operators was being examined to minimise the hardship faced by commuters till the issue was resolved. "...Certain things are difficult. We have to do things within our financial limitations. Already the government has been hit because of COVID-19 and there are financial constraints.

We are thinking about giving them (employees) what can be given legitimately," Savadi, who is also the Transport Minister, said.

Speaking to reporters ahead of meeting workers' representatives here, he said some legitimate demands can be fulfilled as he expressed hope that the stalemate would be resolved and buses will start operating soon.
"Their demand for being considered as government employees is not possible as it is difficult.

There are several other corporations in the state with similar demands and if we do it now, it will open a pandora's box as others are ready with a petition.
Most part of the government's revenue will have to be spent on them if it happens," he added.

The employees' major demands are that they are brought under the governments' payroll, provided the same privileges incentives as government employees and compensation of Rs 30 lakh to those who died during Covid duty.

Asked why the government was not imposing the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) on the workers, he said they are like family and the government did not want to use such harsh measures on them now.
"They are our staff, we want to convince them. ESMA is like Brahmastra, we don't want to use it immediately. There is no question of it. I have trust in our employees, it (strike) will end," he said.

With public transport services coming to a grinding halt across the state, lakhs of commuters, who depend on buses for their daily commute, have been hit. Meanwhile, official sources said a limited number of buses operated on Sunday (December 13) in some parts of Bengaluru and various parts of the state. 

The minister said that certain relaxations would be given to private bus operators to run their vehicles to ensure that the public does not face any inconvenience.

"I have already held discussions with the Commissioner (transport) in this regard and necessary steps will be taken," he added.

The DCM also indicated that the government was not ready to entertain farmers' leader Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, who has now emerged as the representative of the RTC workers.

To a question, he said there may be some motive behind Chandrashekhar's involvement in the strike and the government had not invited him for any meetings.

"We have called our worker representatives as they are part of our family," Savadi said while stating that he would reveal about the "hidden hands" behind these strikes at a later stage.

On whether he suspects Congress' to be behind it, he merely said he was neither denying it nor confirming it at this stage.

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