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Anil Kumar Sastry
A trainee takes home around Rs. 6,000 a month
A regular employee is paid Rs. 10,000 a month
BANGALORE: Every other Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) driver or conductor you meet is a trainee and it appears to be by design. Despite going through the rigorous and computerised driving skill test, a qualified driver has to undergo two years of training. In every other respect, the trainees perform the duties of regular crew.
Thanks to a “novel” scheme introduced by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) in 1995, more than half of the crew (6,400 out of 12,000) that operates over 4,000 BMTC buses is under training. Of the 35,000 drivers and conductors in the four State transport undertakings who operate 15,000 buses, over 16,000 are trainees.
Unlike in other government departments where a recruit would be placed on probation for two years after recruitment, the corporations place recruits on training for two years and thereafter on probation for another two years. They end up saving not less than Rs. 8 crore a month or close to Rs. 100 crore a year, adding to their profit margin.
A trainee driver is paid Rs. 2,600 a month in the first year and Rs. 3,000 a month in the second year of training while a trainee driver-cum-conductor and a conductor would be paid Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 2,900 respectively during the relevant period. Apart from these, they would be paid a “batta” of Rs. 19 a day on working days and double payment for overtime duty.
Thus, a trainee would take home around Rs. 6,000 a month if he gets overtime payment while a regular driver/conductor takes home not less than Rs. 10,000 a month. Till 2006, the trainees were paid Rs. 2,500 a month.Pittance
A trainee driver of BMTC unwilling to be identified told The Hindu that what trainees have been getting was a pittance. “Considering the cost of living in Bangalore, what we are paid is far less. I come from a remote village i n north Karnataka where there is no other employment opportunity,” he said.
“Drivers working for call-centre cabs or trucks get over Rs. 10,000 a month. Even out of our meagre salary, we end up paying various fines for minor damage to the coach or any other frivolous reason and are at the mercy of the top brass,” he said. As a result, the driver said many trainees have been leaving the service.
The fact that of the 1,886 drivers selected in the first quarter of this year, only 1,576 reported for duty and of the 853 drivers-cum-conductors, only 686 reported for duty supports his point. Of the 12,989 crew members selected since 1995 till 2004, the training period of 1,895 members was extended beyond two years pending various disciplinary actions.Benefits
Though the trainees are paid less, the corporation has provided them various benefits, including Rs. 3 lakh life insurance, said a senior BMTC official. They are entitled to BMTC’s share towards provident fund, a pair of uniform and shoe a year, one casual leave a month, weekly off, compassionate appointment to a family member in case of death and medical treatment, the official noted.
While a government job has become a distant dream these days, the corporations, which have been recruiting the crew in large numbers, have been offering a decent livelihood, the official said.
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