Bengaluru: A bus depot bears a deserted look during second day of strike by Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) employees, in Bengaluru on Dec 11, 2020. . Image Source: IANS News

Bengaluru, April 21 : Following the Karnataka High Court's direction, the Karnataka State Road Transport Employees League (KSRTEL) called off its indefinite strike and decided to resume operations from Wednesday night itself, its Honorary President, Kodihalli Chandrashekar said here.

Chandrashekhar told reporters that the KSRTEL had called off its 15-day long strike that affected tge statewide public transport system and had hit the lakhs of commuters for nearly a fortnight.

The KSRTEL had gone on indefinite protest since April 7, demanding their pay hike on par with incumbent state government employees in the state as per the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations.

After the KSRTEL's call, the public transport system had come to screeching halt across the state and this is the longest duration of protest in Karnataka by the employees of government-run bodies.

Chandrashekhar said that the KSRTEL voluntarily decided to call off its strike after the high court's intervention and surging Covid cases across the state. "We cannot ignore the worsening Covid situation and we do not wish to be party to the worsening situation. In these trying times, the transport system plays a vital role, we need to restore it to normalcy," he said.

He added that their fight to seek remuneration hike as per the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission would continue in court. "The high court has asked us to appear before them on Thursday and our lawyers will be presenting our case there," he said.

In response to a question, Chandrashekhar said that with even Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa taken ill and admitted to hospital, it would not be appropriate on KSRTEL's part to continue its protest. "He is ill and he should come back healthy. We can always approach him again to consider our demands in a more considerate manner," he said.

He also added that the KSRTEL would seek High Court's directions to restore jobs to dismissed probationary staff members and those who have been transferred for supporting the strike.

The KSRTEL was formed in January 2020 after most of the employees felt that existing employees unions were not doing enough and it tasted its first success in December 2020, when it stopped the public transport system for four days in a row and succeeded in getting a written assurance on its demands from the Karnataka government.

As per this written assurance, the KSRTEL claimed that they have been deprived of their salary hike based on Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations and it went to indefinite strike from April 7.

KSRTEL comprises employees of four separate transport corporations - the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), the North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC), and the North East Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) - together run a total fleet of 26,000 buses with the help of more than 1.37 lakh employees.

Among the four corporations, the BMTC is considered to be the lifeline of Bengaluru public transport system connecting every nook and cranny of the city with its fleet of 6,000 buses.

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