State-owned Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) told the Telangana High Court that it had no money to pay salaries for September to the employees, whose indefinite strike entered the 17th day yesterday.
The TSRTC informed Justice Abhinand Kumar Shavili that the public utility requires Rs239 crore to pay the salaries to over 48,000 employees while it currently has only Rs7.49 crore.
TSRTC managing director Sunil Sharma said the strike has resulted in a loss of Rs125 crore during the Dushera festival season.
The court was told the TSRTC was running in losses and dependent on the government to pay salaries to the staff.
The court was hearing a petition by National Mazdoor Union, seeking direction to the TSRTC and the state government to pay salaries for the month of September to all employees.
According to the affidavit, the company’s annual income last year was Rs4,882 crore while the expenditure was Rs5,811 crore. It had outstanding loans of Rs4,709 crore and arrears of Rs1,660 crore were payable to the employees.
The court was also informed that the salaries of the employees were hiked by 67% since the formation of Telangana state. They were given 44% fitment in June 2015, which imposed a burden of Rs900 crore annually. In July 2018, 16% interim relief was provided to the employees at an additional cost of Rs200 crore.
Sharma told the court that the employees illegally went on strike when their demands were being discussed at the Labour Department. He said though the government gave an assurance that it will strengthen the corporation, the employees still went on strike, causing hardship to people.
The National Mazdoor Union said since the employees worked during the entire month of September, non-payment of salaries for the working period was unconstitutional. It also brought to the court’s notice that non-payment of salaries was driving employees to suicide.
After hearing the arguments from both sides, the judge adjourned the hearing to October 29.
The next hearing will be a day after a division bench resumes hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeking direction to end the strike.
The strike began on October 5 with a charter of 26 demands, the main being the TSRTC’s merger with the government.
Despite the court suggesting to the government, the TSRTC and the striking employees to initiate talks, the impasse continued.
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of striking employees want the government or TSRTC management to invite them for talks to discuss all demands including the merger.
However, the government has ruled out taking back the striking employees. Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has already declared that they ceased to be TSRTC employees as they did not join duty before the expiry of the deadline.
The government has termed the strike illegal and slammed the employees for going on strike during festival causing a huge loss to TSRTC, which was already in the red.
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