The indefinite strike launched on Thursday by employees of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation has hit lakhs of commuters, particularly students, across the state and the Government threatened to invoke ESMA if the stir was not called off.
The Labour Commissioner has already declared the strike as "illegal" under the Industrial Disputes Act 1947, Deputy Chief Minister and Transport Minister R Ashoka told reporters in Bengaluru after a meeting with top Transport Department officials.
Admitting that the strike has affected commuters in several districts, Ashoka said the government has decided to permit private vehicles including maxi cabs to operate at all bus stations to help passengers.
"The wages paid by KSRTC is the highest in the Southern states. Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation employees have been given 23 per cent hike, but they have been demanding 30 per cent in other four KSRTC divisions. The hike has incurred Rs 2200 crore financial burden on the corporation over the next four years", he asserted.
"The government is ready for talks with striking employees. We will wait till this evening and if the strike is not called off, then we will think of invoking the stringent ESMA", he said.
Ashoka said there are no recognised employees union in KSRTC and the issue of which union should be recognised was pending before court.
Some 500 buses are plying in the city, he said and hoped that the number would increase by evening.
The employees are protesting against the managements 'unilaterally' taking a decision on wage revision.