About 20,000 employees of the Rajasthan State Transport Corporation (RSTC) organised a successful two-day strike to oppose the moves by the government to transfer the public transport service into private hands. The strike took place on 30th and 31st July 2014.
It was peaceful during the two-day strike, in the 51 bus depots including depots in Bikaner, Alwar, Dausa, Ajmer, Jaipur. The employee leaders announced that they will launch a decisive struggle if the government does not take back the decision to privatise.
The strike was led by Rajasthan Roadways Karmchari Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti. The Rural Transport Bus Service Union has also supported the strike. There are about 550 rural buses plying in the whole state. The drivers, conductors and officials took part in the strike.
It is worth noting that the Rajasthan government had announced the end of the monopoly of the RSTC on 14th July to promote its privatisation program. Now private buses will be given stage carriage permits even on the routes where only the Roadways buses used to ply.
At the same time, a new Rajasthan State Bus-port Services Corporation will be established to replace the Bus Port Authority. Under this plan, initially there will be 80 bus stands from where both the private and the Roadways buses will operate. Various function of these bus stands will be handed over to private parties in the name of modernisation, .
The RSTC was established on 1 October 1964. Its aim was to provide inexpensive, sufficient, punctual and efficient service to the people of Rajasthan. Currently, from 51 Depots, 4536 buses are operated daily covering a distance of more than 16,00,000 km. More than 9,00,000 travellers are making yse of this service. Travellers can reach even the most remote places using this service.
Allowing the private operators in the state transport service is like allowing a camel some space in a tent; it ends up occupying the whole of the tent. The question is: will the owners of the private bus services be committed to providing comfortable and inexpensive bus service to the people? Will they operate the routes on which there is no profit?
The experience of the people shows that wherever transport services are privatised in the country, people have to bear a bigger burden. Also the exploitation of the workers of this sector increases without limits. The working class must oppose privatisation moves under any pretext.