A 60-year-old commuter died and thousands were left stranded in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram for over five hours when employees of the Kerala state transport bus corporation (KSRTC) launched a flash strike on Wednesday morning while protesting the arrest of a senior official by the police.
By afternoon, however, following discussions between the police and the KSRTC unions, the strike was withdrawn and bus services resumed operations.
The commuter, identified as Surendran, who fell unconscious during the strike, later died at the hospital. A row erupted when a senior transport officer of the KSRTC stopped a private bus from operating on a route that they were not mandated to run on. The official had reportedly forcefully stopped a private bus that was operating services to Attukal temple to take advantage of the festival season when in fact it was only mandated to run between Mannanthala and Kizhakkekotta.
When the official was arrested by the Fort police station, employees and trade unions of the KSRTC began assembling outside the police station and demanded his immediate release. But when the police declined, the employees launched themselves into a flash strike, suspending bus services indefinitely. Soon unions at the main Thampanoor, Kizhakkekotta and Nedumangad bus depots joined the strike too, virtually halting all services in the city and causing inconvenience to thousands of passengers.
Commuters in Thiruvananthapuram, especially students, government employees and patients travelling to the Medical College for appointments, depend heavily on the KSRTC, which operates extensive intra-city services. The suspension of services and the accumulation of the buses on the roads also led to massive traffic blockades in the city. Commuters were aghast that the unions could launch into a strike and put thousands of people in inconvenience over a matter that could have been solved amicably.
By around 3 pm Wednesday, KSRTC once again resumed services from all the main depots.
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