‘Karnataka govt. has written to EC seeking permission’

Appealing to road transport corporation (RTC) employees to not go on strike from April 7, Deputy Chief Minister and Transport Minister Laxman Savadi cited the model code of conduct as an obstacle for taking a decision on hiking salaries of the staff. He also urged the staff to wait till May 4.

“In the State, the Model Code of Conduct is already in place in Bidar, Raichur and Belagavi. It is mandatory to seek prior permission of the Election Commission to make any announcement on pay revision and we have already approached the commission in this regard. If the Commission does not give permission, we cannot decide on pay revision till May 4,” he said. He reiterated that an indefinite strike will cause inconvenience to the general public. Responding to questions on the State government using the MCC as an excuse , the Minister said, “We have already taken a decision to hike the salaries of the staff and we will not go back from our words. If the Election Commission gives the green signal , we are ready to make announcement tomorrow itself.”

He added that a Labour Court which is doing conciliation meetings with RTCs and representatives of the Union has directed to maintain the status-quo till April 9. He further said that the Health Department, has barred protests to contain COVID-19 .

He said that hiking of salaries will result in an additional burden of ₹3,800 crore on the corporations in four years. Six rounds of meetings have been held on the pay revision. “We need time to deliberate on several issues. The employees are demanding salaries as per the 6th pay commission. However, at present, they are getting some additional benefits, and whether they will be continued or not needs to be discussed. On the other hand, that RTCs are facing financial distress and mobilising funds to pay revised salaries also needs to be discussed. We have to seek approval of the Finance Department prior to taking a final decision,” he said.

After the outbreak of the pandemic, ridership in buses dropped significantly. “Prior to the pandemic, over one crore people were travelling per day. It then dropped to 65 lakh per day. Due to the second wave, it has further dropped by 5%. COVID-19 cases are rising at faster rate and ridership will drop further.”

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