India’s Karnataka Transport Staff go on Strike to Demand Salary Reform

Last week, taxi drivers at Bengaluru Airport in Karnataka state went on a strike after a cabbie linked to the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) set himself on fire.

Public transport workers under the umbrella organisation Karnataka State Road Transport Employees League went on strike indefinitely on Wednesday in India’s Karnataka state.

They’re demanding that the government modify the salary system in line with the Sixth Pay Commission.

Convened by the Union Cabinet of India on 5 October 2006, the Sixth Central Pay Commission is designed to remove pay scale ambiguity in government jobs while guaranteeing a steady salary rise at regular intervals.

Less Taxis for Bengaluru Flyers After State Tourism Cabbie Sets Himself Alight Over Financial Stress

Talking to Sputnik on condition of anonymity, an official from Karnataka State Road Transport Employees League said that this issue first came up last December and the state government had asked for three months to make the changes.

“The strike is a result of no follow-up on the same from the government’s side. The employees are ready to protest until their demands are met. We are ready to operate our local bus services as soon as the employees are ready,” the official added.

Meanwhile, images of empty buses parked in deserted stations across Karnataka have surfaced on Twitter.

​Although the state government has made alternate arrangements by roping in private transport operators, locals have also taken to social media to highlight the inconvenience the strike is causing to their daily commute.

​Vijay Bhaskar, a member of the transport workers union, told Indian daily Hindustan Times earlier this week that there’s a salary difference of 19 percent between government employees and protesting transport workers.

P. Ravi Kumar, the chief secretary of Karnataka, said that the state will not be able to meet the demands of the protesting transport employees.

Kumar also said the state has been paying salaries to all transport workers totalling $282 million, despite a nosedive in revenue collections amid the escalating coronavirus situation.

“Without giving room for the government to take strict measures, drop the strike and cooperate with the administration,” Karnataka state chief B. S. Yediyurappa urged the protesting workers. 

To make commuting easier for locals, the transport commissioner of Karnataka has issued an order to private cabs and rickshaw drivers asking them to refrain from hiking up their prices. 

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