T’gana RTC staff angry over double, single-digit salaries

Hyderabad: After receiving 50 per cent salaries for three months, the employees of the state-owned Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) were hoping to receive full salaries for June but to their utter shock the management resorted to huge cuts.

Many employees received salaries between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000 against Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000. Some of the employees received salaries below Rs 1,000. Few were paid salaries below Rs 100 or even in single digits.

An employee in Bhadrachalam depot was shocked to receive the message on his mobile phone that Rs 7 was credited to his bank account. Another employee of the same depot received Rs 57 while a third was paid Rs 77. The corporation paid Rs 999 to a fourth employee.

The employees alleged that they were not paid by the management on the ground that their services were not used or they were absent.

As the TSRTC is operating partial services in view of low occupancy due to the COVID-19 situation, the management is using the services of only a section of the employees. Others are being treated as spare but they have to come to the depot to mark the attendance.

Those who received meager payment alleged that they were marked on leave despite their attendance. However, the depot managers have denied the allegations and said all those who attended the duties were paid in full.

Leaders of TSRTC Employees’ Union alleged that in cases where employees could not attend the duties due to ill-health or medical emergencies in the family, the depot managers concerned marked them absent stating that they exhausted their leave. “When there was a total lockdown and no buses were being operated, the employees were marked on leave and now the depot managers are saying that they have exhausted the leave,” said union leader K. Raji Reddy.

TSRTC, which has a fleet of 10,460 buses, resumed partial operations on May 19. The buses were off the roads for nearly two months. The city services, however, remained suspended in Hyderabad due to a high number of COVID-19 cases. The inter-state services were also not restored.

Only 4,000 buses are being currently operated and as result services of less than 50 per cent of 49,000 employees are being utilized. The remaining are being treated as ‘spare’.

Even the occupancy in the buses which are being operated remained low as people are avoiding travel in public transport due to fear of contracting the virus.

TSRTC Employees’ Union has demanded the management to pay full salaries to the employees as they were already facing financial problems due to a 50 per cent pay cut for the last three months.

“The employees are being subjected to mental harassment,” said K. Raji Reddy, general secretary, TSRTC Employees’ Union.

He threatened to launch a state-wide protest over the issue. “We will be forced to launch another movement,” he said.

He was referring to a nearly two-month-long strike by the employees late last year to press the demand for a wage hike. The protest has led to an unprecedented confrontation between the employees and the government, which rejected their demands and even threatened to sack them.

TSRTC, which was already running into losses, suffered a blow with the strike. Even as it was struggling to overcome the losses, the COVID-19 induced lockdown plunged it into another crisis.

The officials said every day TSRTC should earn Rs 11 to 12 crore. During summer and marriage season the income goes up to Rs 15 crore.

Despite resuming partial operations since May 19, TSRTC is still suffering a daily loss of Rs 7 crore to 8 crores.