New Delhi: Employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) on Wednesday rejected Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s directive to rejoin duty by midnight of November 5, saying that they would not do so till the government holds talks with them over their demands.

The Chief Minister, also known by initials KCR, had, on Saturday, directed the employees to return to service by the said date. Additionally, he had also warned them of privatisation of bus routes if the government’s directive was not followed. Later, in an order issued on November 4, the government said it was not taking back those employees who did not report to duty as directed.

In a statement, however, Ashwathama Reddy, president of TSRTC Joint Action Committee, said, “RTC unions have decided to boycott CM’s call to join back services. RTC employees are supporting the strike and they’ll not join back services until govt holds discussions with us on our demands.”

In his warning to the agitators, CM KCR had said that 5,100 of the state’s 10,400 routes had already been given to private operators while the remaining, too, would be privatised if they did not call off their strike.

The RTC employees have been on an indefinite strike since October 5, demanding that the RTC be merged with the state government. The demand, however, has been summarily turned down by the Telangana government. Currently, over 48,000 employees are observing the strike. At least four employees have also committed suicide.