Transport employees seek salaries for lockdown period

Honorary president of NWKRTC Employees Federation P.H. Neeralakeri has urged the State government to immediately release the salaries of employees of North West Karnataka (NWKRTC) and North East Karnataka (NEKRTC) Road Transport Corporations for the month of May and the lockdown period.

Addressing presspersons in Dharwad on Thursday, Mr. Neeralakeri said that both the transport corporations should discharge their responsibilities properly and arrange to pay their salary dues.

“The strike was held from April 7 to 22 and subsequently, following a direction from the High Court of Karnataka, the transport strike was withdrawn and the employees returned to work. However, when workers went to report to duty, they were asked to produce COVID-19 test results and also get their vaccination done, which took two or three days for the workers to comply with. As there was Janata Curfew on April 24 and 25, the workers went to report to duty on April 26, when the officials did not allow them to join duty and sent them back. And, on April 27, the State government announced a State-wide lockdown. Despite all these developments, the central offices of these corporations have issued circulars stating that only 20% to 30% employees were working and the remaining will be treated as absent,” he said.

Mr. Neeralakeri said that in the backdrop of the circular, it becomes evident that the remaining workers will be deprived of their salaries. The association has already submitted memorandum to the authorities to treat it as only seven days unauthorised absence and pay salaries for the lockdown period. But the authorities have only paid ₹1,000 to ₹1,500 as salaries for April. Some of them have received just ₹300 to ₹400, while salaries of several have been treated as zero, he said.

Mr. Neeralakeri said that while on the one side the State government has released ₹375 crore as grant towards salaries of employees, the officials of the transport corporations are harassing lower level employees by not paying them their salary dues.

He said that amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the second wave, the transport employees have been deployed along with police personnel to keep vigil over law and order situation. Such being the case, steps should be immediately taken to release the salaries of the employees for the months of April and May, he said.

Association office-bearers Siddanna Kambar, Srishailgouda Kamatar, P.F. Kolkar, H.A. Jagirdar and others urged the State government to take steps to provide compensation of ₹30 lakh each to the families of the 40 transport employees who died due to COVID-19.

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