Trainees worry after BMTC sacks workers’ leader

Trainees, probationers worry after BMTC sacks striking workers’ leader

Of the 1,900 suspended trainees and probationers, more than 1,500 belong to the BMTC

People wait for bus amid a BMTC employees strike at Majestic in Bengaluru. Credit: DH file photo

The BMTC’s move to sack the leader of striking employees has sent shockwaves through the 1,900 staff of the four transport corporations who remain suspended or dismissed pending further orders.

R Chandrashekhar was dismissed from service with effect from August 17 but the matter came to light only on August 24. On Wednesday, the letter of his dismissal went viral on social media, worrying many employees.

Of the 1,900 suspended trainees and probationers, more than 1,500 belong to the BMTC. They were suspended or dismissed in April and haven’t been paid since.

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In December last year, RTC employees stitched a new association — Karnataka State Road Transport Employees’ League — and announced an indefinite strike. Among other demands, they wanted to be treated on a par with state government employees. The strike was called off after the government promised to consider their demands. But employees struck work again in April this year, accusing the government of backtracking on its promises. The strike was called off on the high court’s intervention.

Going a step ahead, RTCs suspended or dismissed trainees and probationers who actively took part in the strikes.

Two trainees said Chandrashekhar’s sacking came as a rude shock to them at a time when they are facing a financial crisis due to lack of pay in the last four months.

Manu (name changed), a trainee driver-cum-conductor of the North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation, became emotional while speaking about his ordeal. “Initially, I went to work even during the strike. But I stopped after striking workers harassed and humiliated me on April 12.” Ironically, he said the dismissal order on April 17 put him in the same basket as those who willingly participated in the strike.

Dhananjay Kumar (not his real name), a trainee driver from the KSRTC working in Dakshina Kannada, said he was among over 200 employees set to be reinstated after four months. “I’m yet to receive an order. But I have been told that I have to restart my trainee and probationary period, which means I have to work one more year for a salary of Rs 9.100. I am disappointed with the way the association stopped fighting for us,” he said.

A senior official in the transport department said the decision on reinstating the employee depended on the charges he was facing with regard to the involvement in the strike. “As per the high court direction, we are looking into each case. Those who damaged the property or assaulted the personnel for not participating in the strike will face action,” the official said.

A former leader of the league who was expelled by Chandrashekhar said the December strike went wrong due to lack of unity. “The management divided the league’s leaders. It was a turning point in the struggle. We didn’t get anything we asked from the government,” he said.

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