TN Bus strike: Transport minister appeals employees to join duty

A overcrowded MTC bus plying on Anna Salai in Chennai on Saturday

A overcrowded MTC bus plying on Anna Salai in Chennai on Saturday

Strike by transport unions across Tamil Nadu over wage-related issues entered the second day on Friday, causing hardships to people, with the government making all-out efforts to address the situation. "Recourse to lighting strikes or flash strikes without notice leads to the consequences of denying the citizens of their right to free movement and is clearly illegal and against the public interest", the judge said while passing interim orders on a PIL filed in this regard.

"I appeal to employees to come back for duty, honorable court has also asked them to come back", Vijayabhaskar said addressing media at Karur. The trade unions demand a 2.57 percent hike while the government insisted on 2.44 percent hike. He said, "Thirty employees refused to accept the agreement".

The state's AIADMK government hired temporary drivers and roped in private bus service operators.

Transport workers are demanding salaries on par with drivers in other State government corporations. The High Court said that the government could take action against those who have stopped work.

CITU leader A Soundarrajan said he felt the court had not heard their side and that the unions will put forth their views on Monday before the bench.

Students using an overcrowded bus in Tirunelveli
Students using an overcrowded bus in Tirunelveli

General Secretary of DMK-backed LPF, M Shanmugam, said they were not anxious about action from the government since any protest would attract action.

Chief Minister K Palaniswami chaired a meeting of ministers and senior officials to take stock of the situation, even as opposition parties including the DMK and the Left, besides actor Kamal Haasan, urged the government to end the stalemate by holding talks with trade unions.

Unions today announced that the strike will continue till their demands are met. Over 40 trade unions affiliated to the state transport corporations have chose to intensify the protest.

Transport Minister M.R. Vijayabaskar accused "some unions" of trying to flare up the strike for their own agenda even as 32 trade unions signed the wage agreement. Private buses and vans had a good run as they were over crowded. The State government offered a 2.41-2.44 times rise, which was rejected by union representatives.

Private bus operators were also finding it hard as they were not aware of the routes and where to stop. The auto fare is so high, I can not afford it.

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