Transport employees up in arms against ESMA

Hundreds of employees of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), autorickshaw and ambulance drivers took out a rally from Town Hall to Freedom Park via Mysore Bank Circle on Thursday, protesting the State government’s plan to pass the Essential Services Maintenance Bill, 2013. Lorry owners too joined the rally.

“This is against democratic values. If this bill is passed, it will mean that public transport employees, auto rickshaw drivers etc, will not be able to protest or demand anything from the State government, even though we are doing it in a peaceful democratic means,” said B V Raghavendra, convenor of the All India Road Transport Workers’ Federation.

‘Stringent provisions’

The Karnataka ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act) was in force from 1994 to 2004. In 2013, the Act was reintroduced with the Karnataka Essential Services Maintenance Bill, 2013.“If the bill is made into an Act, it will mean that any protesting employee in the public transport sector can be arrested and jailed, without bail. The punishment is six months imprisonment and fine. Even those who support the protest through donations can be jailed,” said Raghavendra. The protestors submitted a memorandum to the chief minister requesting him not to pass the bill.


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