Bus strike called off as Govt gives in

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With the government agreeing to consider the 30 per cent pay hike demanded by BMTC and KSRTC drivers, the bus unions are set to call off their strike on Saturday, Transport minister R. Ashok indicated at the end of marathon talks that ended late on Friday night. However, an official announcement was yet to be made at the time of going to the press.

The government also agreed to withdraw cases against employees and withdraw transfers effected since early 2012. But while buses may be back on the roads, truckers have threatened to go on strike from Sept. 19 against the hike in diesel price.

Chaos reigns on roads
Being out on the roads on Friday was a nightmare for most as the city turned even more chaotic than usual in the absence of public transport. As people came out in their two wheelers and four wheelers rather than depend on unscrupulous autorickshaw drivers, the narrow roads groaned under the weight of the traffic, giving the police a hard time regulating it.

With nearly 90 per cent of the BMTC buses choosing to stay off the roads, the state government organised private vehicles to ferry people wherever possible. Around 2,000 private buses and over 20,000 cabs were mobilised to help stranded people. Even government agencies like BESCOM volunteered to help passengers by providing a dedicated helpline for them to reach in emergencies and arranging special vehicles to serve as public transport.

But office-goers and students had the worst time as major bus stations like the Majestic, Mysore Road Satellite Bus station, Shanthinagar bus station and the Jayanagar TTMC fell silent. “The IT employees are the worst hit as many depend on the city bus service to commute between office and home. We are happy the weekend is here and we don’t have to report to office tomorrow and the day after. But we will be in trouble again if the strike is not called off by Monday,” said an employee of Wipro, Satish Acharya.

Fortunately, the sprinkling of BMTC buses in the morning, turned into quite a flow by afternoon as many of the Volvo buses began to run on some of the important routes. Some BMTC drivers who returned to work, admitted they were afraid of upsetting members of the five striking unions which have remained firm on their demands. One driver who had reported to work in the Majestic area said he was being cautious and was not wearing his uniform to escape notice.

“We are coming to work in civil dress because we have been asked to do so to avoid any trouble with the unions. We are also wearing helmets while driving to avoid injury in case the bus is stoned,” said a Volvo driver, Manjunath K. T.

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