The token strike staged by the employees of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) in the district on Wednesday disrupted bus services from various depots affecting the public life in the city and elsewhere.

The dawn-to-dusk strike was declared by the Centre of India Trade Unions (CITU)-affiliated Kerala State Road Transport Employees Association (KSRTEA) and the Congress-affiliated Transport Democratic Front (TDF) in support of their long-pending demands, including a permanent solution to disbursement of pension.

During a time when the examinations are in full flow at various schools and colleges and the 19th International Film Festival of Kerala is being held, the strike caused considerable difficulty to the public, who were forced to depend on private buses, taxis, autorickshaws and special services as alternatives.

“No buses were in service from the depots in the district between 6 am and 6 pm,” said P Babu Kumar, the district transport officer (DTO). Long-distance buses of KSRTC as well as Tamil Nadu STC entering the district from National Highways, MC Road and state highways were terminated at depots near the border, the DTO said.

“All special services to Sabarimala were operational without any disruption from the protesters,” Babu Kumar added. KSRTEA and TDF, who organised the stir, said that the strike was total throughout the district.

Meanwhile, the body of K Gopinatha Pillai, a retired station master of KSRTC’s Vellanad depot and a KSRTEA activist, who committed suicide on Wednesday, was put on public display in front of the Secretariat. CITU general secretary Elamaram Kareem and V S Sunil Kumar MLA were present during the dharna staged in this connection.

There were no cases of violence; however, there were allegations that a scuffle broke out in Attingal between a commuter, who was taking his mother to the Regional Cancer Centre here, and protesters. Brushing aside the allegations, KSRTEA state general secretary C K Hari Krishnan said that though the service was blocked, the protesters had arranged conveyance for the commuter to the hospital.

“The inaction from the part of the government has been unfortunate and we will be going on an indefinite fast in front of Secretariat from December 22,” Hari Krishnan said.

However, other organisations like the Kerala State Transport Employees’ Sangh (KSTES), affiliated to the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, stayed away from the strike. “We are not joining a strike centred around one district for a demand that is affecting the whole state,” said Sangh state secretary S Ajayakumar.

“Both the LDF and the UDF governments have failed to find a solution to this issue and we consider this strike called by unions affiliated to them useless. Also, we do not want to create problems to the public during the Sabarimala and exam season,” he said.

New Indian Express