Bengaluru: The Karnataka government declared two day holidays for all schools across the state from Monday in view of the indefinite strike call by the state-run bus transport corporation's employees for wage hike.
"All schools across the state will remain closed on Monday and Tuesday to avoid inconvenience to students, as the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation's (KSRTC) employees will be on strike after Sunday midnight," an official told IANS here.
The state government has also declared two day holiday for all colleges in only Bengaluru, as the state-run Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation employees are joining the strike for 35 percent hike in salary.
Defying appeals by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy to give up the strike in public interest, around 1.23 lakh employees of the corporation's unions have decided to stay away from work from Monday onwards.
"As the state government is not ready to give us more than 10 percent hike despite cost of living going up steeply, we will not operate bus services from Monday till our 35 percent hike demand is met," KSRTC staff and federation general secretary HV Anatha Subbarao told reporters after talks with Reddy failed again earlier in the day.
About 23,000 state-run buses will stay off roads, state and national highways, affecting intra and inter-state services and disrupting passengers' movement.
"The state government is not in a position to meet the union's demand as 35 percent hike in salaries will burden the state exchequer by Rs 4,550 crore. We are ready to give 10 percent increase," Reddy told reporters after talks with the union's representatives.
Reddy also claimed that KSRTC employees' wages were higher than their counterparts in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra.
The chief minister has directed the transport department to make alternative arrangements to minimise inconvenience to the public, as millions of them travel in state-run buses across the state.
"We will grant provisional contract carriage to private operators for bus service in cities and towns till the strike is called off," Reddy said.