Bangalore, Sept 13: The Karnataka government threatened to invoke the ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act) after the indefinite strike started by state bus corporation employees threw normal life out of gear and affected lakhs across the state. It said the stringent act would be put into effect if the strike was not withdrawn.
Deputy Chief Minister and Transport Minister R Ashoka said after a meeting with top transport officials that the Labour Commissioner had already termed the strike as an 'illegal' one. The minister said the government decided to permit private vehicles to ply at all bus stations to help the stranded passengers.
Ashoka said the salaries paid by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is the highest in southern India. He also said that the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) staff members have been provided with a 23 per cent hike but they were still asking for a 30 per cent rise in other four divisions of the KSRTC. The hike has left a huge financial burden on the corporation and it will continue for some time, the deputy chief minister said.
He said the government was ready to talk with the striking employees but would consider invoking the stringent ESMA if the strike was not called off by the end of the day.
He said the KSRTC had no recognised employees union and a case was pending at the court on which union should be given recognition. He also said around 500 buses were playing in Bangalore on Thursday and hoped that the number would increase soon.
The employees said they were protesting the management's 'unilateral' decision-making on revising wage.