CHENNAI: Facing a crippling shortage of drivers, the State Express Transport Corporation has decided to engage 400 driver-cum-conductors on contract basis. This is the first time the corporation will engage crew on contract, which, sources in the SETC insisted, is only a temporary arrangement to address the shortage.
“The corporation has 1,800 driver-cum-conductors vacancies, due to which we are struggling to operate the full fleet of SETC buses. Out of the 1,000 buses, we are able to operate only 800 on weekdays. On weekends, we are operating the full fleet to meet the demand,” sources said, adding that the vacancies are set to go up by 500 in the next six months due to impending retirement.
The situation is expected to be exacerbated in the upcoming festival season during which the demand for SETC buses would be high, as the government service does not hike fares drastically unlike private operators. Thus, to ensure the operation of the full fleet, the corporation has sought to recruit 800 driver-cum-conductors.
The question now is whether the corporation itself should recruit these contract staff or through TNPSC. “Earlier, it was decided that the conductors would be recruited by the TNPSC while the drivers would be recruited directly. The question about recruitment process arose because these are driver-cum-conductors,” sources added.
Officials pointed out that though the corporation has never engaged drivers on contract till now, it was widely followed by many government departments including TTDC and Tangedco.
K Arumughanainar, general secretary of the CITU-affiliated Tamil Nadu State Transport Employee’s Federation, said all the trade unions, including the DMK’s LPF, were opposed to the SETC’s move. “We will soon announce a protest against the plan,” he said.