Bangalore: Millions of commuters were stranded at bus stands and railway stations across Karnataka as the state road transport employees struck work on Thursday demanding higher wages.
Drivers of auto rickshaws, a poplar mode of transport here, fleeced desperate commuters trying to reach their destinations.
As schools were opened, parents and guardians of children, who rely on government buses for getting their wards to and from schools, had to bear the brunt of the strike in the city and other major towns.
Despite assurance by Transport Minister R Ashoka and road transport authorities that the bus services would not be affected, the strike was near total across the state, reports reaching here said.
Over 6,000 buses that do around 80,000 trips daily in Bangalore and over 8,000 buses that ferry commuters on intra and inter-state routes were off the road with 110,000 employees staying away from work, HV Anantha Subburao, a spokesperson of the unions supporting strike, told reporters here.
Five unions called for an "indefinite strike" from Thursday to protest the "meagre" wage hike of 10 percent announced by the government last month.
Rao said the unions want the government to decide on wage hike only in consultation with the unions. The union have not disclosed the quantum of hike they are seeking.
Rebutting unions` claim that the 10 percent hike was not adequate, Karnataka State Road Transport Corp (KSRTC) managing director Manjunath Prasad said even with this increase, "we will incur an expenditure of Rs 880 crore per year".
Rao, however, justified the strike saying the management "betrayed" the unions by unilaterally announcing the hike after agreeing that it would be done so after negotiations with the unions.
A government spokesperson said that talks were on with the union leaders to end the stalemate.