The bus services in Karnataka, were severely affected on Wednesday in the wake of a transport strike called by the workers of state Road Transport Corporation. On wage related issues, the workers of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) and North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC), under the banner of Karnataka State Road Transport Employees League announced a tarnsport strike in the southern state from 7 April. The protest is against the governments failure to implement a salary under the 6th Pay Commission for the Road Transport Corporation workers.

“We have fulfilled eight of their (workers) nine demands, despite this they are adamant and have stopped buses, and are creating trouble for the public. I appeal to them, get back to work, we can talk,” Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa said on Wednesday, according to PTI.

Alleging that despite knowing the reality some people were behind the strike for their “selfish motive”, Yediyurappa said we will wait and see today and tomorrow and take strict action depending on the situation.

On invoking Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), he said, “We are discussing everything, depending on the situation, we will take appropriate decisions.”

“Though we have made alternate arrangements with the help of private operators, still they (RTC workers) going for a strike, which is wrong… they should not give room for us to take strict measures and cooperate,” he added.

The employees’ league had decided to go ahead with the strike, despite the government warning of strict action and ruling out any negotiations with them. The government had also made clear that the implementation of the 6th pay commission for transport workers was not possible, but has agreed for an 8% increase in salary as an interim relief.

The government made alternate arrangements by roping in private transport operators and seeking for deployment of more trains, aimed at addressing inconvenience caused to the general public, due to the strike.

“Private buses are being provided facilities at our bus terminals to operate from. They have been allowed to operate without permit, but with insurance for the convenience of the passengers. In two days we will increase their numbers and from tomorrow about 4,000 private buses, those who have surrendered permits, will operate” Karnataka deputy chief minister Laxman Savadi said.

“It will be difficult to pay salary in the days to come, as long as you continue the strike it will harm you,” he told the protesting workers.

On complaints regarding private services including buses, autos and cabs charging exorbitantly, the chief minister said strict instructions have been given in this regard and on receiving any complaint action will be taken. “I appeal to them (private operators) not to charge exorbitantly taking advantage of the situation.. we will not allow it,” he said.

Several universities including Bangalore University, Bengaluru Central University have postponed the examinations scheduled on Wednesday in the view of transport strike in Karnataka.

(With inputs from agencies)

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