RTC unions worried over widening gap in salaries

Say strike inevitable if talks fail on April 22

Hyderabad: Widening gap in salaries between government employees and workers of undivided APSRTC is what making the workers to press for fitment hike on a par with the government employees.  As per an agreement signed in 2001, the government employees (NGOs) were to get 9 per cent fitment hike and APSRTC employees were to get 9.5 per cent hike, according to Employees’ Union Joint General Secretary P Damodara Rao. 

However, in 2005, the fitment hike turned other way round to RTC employees as NGOs got a fitment hike of 16 per cent and RTC employees could get only a 12 per cent hike. Rao accused the National Mazdoor Union (NMU) which was at the forefront of talks at that time, of being responsible for the 4 per cent reduction in fitment to RTC employees. 

Again in 2009, NGOs got a fitment hike of 39 per cent and RTC employees managed to get only 24 per cent. This had resulted in a gap of 15 per cent between RTC employees and NGOs and in effect, led to an effective difference of 19 percent.  Damodara Rao said that equal work must entitle equal pay. “Both NGOs and RTC employees work for 8 hours per day. As such, our demand for equal pay is completely justified,” he said.

When the next round of pay revision came in 2014, the then Congress government of undivided state was not in position to effect pay revision, due to agitations of separate Telangana and Samaikyandhra. However, the government announced an Interim Relief (IR) of 27 per cent to both the government employees and RTC employees. 

RTC employees gave a notice of strike demanding equal pay as far back as in March 2013. Apart from equal pay, the RTC Employees Union and the Telangana Mazdoor Union (TMU) demanded immediate setting up of PRC (Pay Revision Committee), changes in service conditions, hike in allowances and fringe benefits.  The union leaders of both AP and Telangana argued in one voice that since the government bore the 27 per cent IR last year, their demand for fitment hike cannot be brushed aside.

Following the notice served to APSRTC vice-chairman and MD N. Sambasiva Rao on February 16, the MD constituted a PRC, including 8 union leaders drawn from EU and TMU. “Despite setting up of PRC, there is no progress. In fact, 18 meetings have taken place between April 2013 and now,” Damodara Rao said. 

Union leaders finally heeded to MD Samabsiva Rao’s suggestion during the talks on Saturday that he will get back after speaking to Chief Ministers N Chandrababu Naidu and K Chandrasekhar Rao and something amicable can be thrashed out by the next round of talks with Labour Commissioner, slated for Wednesday.\If nothing comes out at the talks with Labour Commissioner, they cannot rule out the possibility of going on an indefinite strike, the union leaders added.

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