Bengaluru: Over one lakh employees of state-owned Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Monday launched an indefinite strike to press for their demand of hike in salary.
A total of 1.23 lakh employees have joined the strike and as many as 23,000 buses of KSRTC will stay off the roads.
The KSRTC employees are demanding a 35 percent hike in salary, while the government was ready to give a 10 percent increase.
"The 30 percent hike in salaries will burden the state exchequer by Rs 4,550 crore. We are ready for 10 percent hike," Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy said.
He argued that the salaries drawn by KSRTC employees were higher compared to their counterparts in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra.
Asked whether the government would invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against the striking employees, Reddy said the government did not want to use this provision, but was ready to negotiate with the federation to solve the issue.
Replying to another question, Reddy said the government would make alternative arrangements by giving temporary contract carriage to private operators during the strike.
The government has declared two-day holiday for schools because of the strike.
Commuters in September 2012 had faced severe difficulties across the state when KSRTC employees struck work for three days.
(With PTI inputs)