Kerala SRTC employees salary issue: LDF, UDF blame each other in assembly

01:17 PM Aug 29, 2022 | PTI |

The ongoing issue of delay in payment of salaries and pensions of KSRTC employees, which has also reached the Kerala High Court, led to a heated discussion between the Congress-led UDF opposition and the Left front in the state assembly on Monday with both blaming each other for the present plight of the public transportation body.


State Transport Minister Antony Raju alleged that no pensions were provided during UDF rule and this welfare measure was brought in during the Left rule and that trade unions of Congress were opposed to the single duty system which could make KSRTC profitable.

He contended that the COVID-19 pandemic, rising fuel prices and denial of certains concessions, like discounts on bulk purchase, by oil marketing companies (OMCs) has adversely impacted the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).

Despite these challenges, the KSRTC was improving its revenue generation and the LDF government was providing financial support, much more than what the UDF had done during its rule, so that salaries and pensions of employees can be paid on time, Raju said.

His claims and contentions were in response to an adjournment motion moved by the opposition to discuss the KSRTC employees salaries and pensions issue in the House.


Contending that there was no need to adjourn the House over the issue, the minister said that on Monday the pensions corresponding to the last two months would be paid to the employees and from next month onwards it would be paid on time as an MoU has been signed with some banks for receiving loans on lesser interest for the same.

Raju also contended that if the single duty system, as suggested by the Sushil Khanna committee and as agreed upon by trade unions in an agreement signed in January this year, was implemented, then around 1,300 buses lying idle can be pressed into operation and the revenue of KSRTC increased further.

However, after signing the agreement, which also provided for a new salary structure, the trade unions were opposing the single duty system now, he claimed.

Opposing his claims, the UDF contended that Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), affiliated to the ruling CPI(M), was also opposed to the single duty system as under it the drivers and conductors have to allegedly work 12-hour shifts.

UDF also contended that the Left government should take a leaf out of the book of neighbouring Tamil Nadu’s government which has been providing huge subsidies to the state transportation body there.

The claims and allegations of the opposition were refuted by Raju who contended that there was no 12-hour shift and presently, drivers and conductors were only working for seven hours.

He said if the workers agree to the single duty system, the services will increase, the idle buses will become operational and thus, salaries would be paid on time.

In view of the submissions by the minister, Speaker M B Rajesh ruled that the adjournment motion stands rejected by the House.

Subsequently, Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the state assembly V D Satheesan, in his speech before leading a walkout, alleged that the ruling dispensation has destroyed the KSRTC.

He claimed that it was evident from the fact that the state government had to pay thousands of crores of rupees more than what UDF did during its rule to support the KSRTC.

During UDF rule, KSRTC was profitable and had more services, buses and employees and we never had to pay huge amounts to support it, he claimed.

The fact that LDF has to spend huge amount of money shows the sad state of affairs of KSRTC, he alleged.

He said that under the Motor Transport Workers Act, drivers and conductors do not have to work for more than eight hours a day.

He also said the state government should consider providing fuel subsidy to the KSRTC.

Satheesan claimed that increase in fuel prices by the Centre led to a nearly Rs 7,000 crore financial benefit to the state and therefore, a fuel subsidy can be provided.

When the state government was willing to bring in the SilverLine semi-high speed rail corridor at a cost of Rs 2 lakh crore, if around Rs 1,000 crore was given to KSRTC, it would come out of its financial constraints, Satheesan claimed.


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