Bengaluru: Schools and colleges across Karnataka will remain closed on Wednesday too, as there was no let-up in the indefinite strike by over a lakh employees of the state-run road transport corporations for a wage hike.
“The state education department has directed schools and colleges in cities and towns across the state to declare holiday on Wednesday too, as the bus strike enters third day,” an official told IANS on Tuesday night after a cabinet meeting.
With Chief Minister Siddaramaiah ruling out more than 10 per cent wage increase as against 30-35 per cent hike demand by unions of the four corporations (KSRTC, NWRTC, NERTC & BMTC), commuting was severely affected on the second day, as 23,000 buses remained in depots in the absence of drivers, conductors and support staff.
“It (wage hike) is not a prestige issue for us nor we are adamant about our offer. Though the cabinet meeting decided to give 8 per cent hike, we have offered to give 10 per cent keeping in view the finances of the corporations and the exchequer. The unions are not agreeing even for this (10 per cent),” the chief minister said.
Though the state transport department has permitted maxi cabs, vans and private buses to operate services on all routes, they were inadequate and crowded due to their erratic timings.
“The unions should call off strike and return to negotiations in public interest, as thousands depend on state-run buses for commuting in cities and towns and on intra-state and inter-state routes,” state Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy told reporters here.
Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd continued to operate more services on the east-west corridor from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. at five-minute frequency to mitigate the hardship of thousands of commuters despite lack of feeder bus service in the city.
South Western Railway (SWR) also operated more suburban trains in the city and between Bengaluru and Kolar, Tumakuru, Mandya and Gauribidanur to help passengers who travel daily to the city from these towns for work and business.
“We are permitting mail and express trains to halt at all stations when arriving in the city (Bengaluru) or departing to other cities across the state borders to enable stranded bus passengers to reach their respective destinations,” a SWR official said.