Tamil Nadu stranded as bus strike enters day 7

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2018

Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday introduced a bill in the state assembly that proposes to double the monthly salary and other allowances for MLAs.

The usual hustle and bustle at the bus stands in Chennai and Coimbatore was seen restored and the commuters expressed delight post the eight-day-long strike. Centre of Indian Trade Unions leader A Soundarajan also announced that transport workers would resume duties from Friday.

The striking Tamil Nadu transport workers unions on Wednesday night made a decision to continue with their agitation as the government is yet to invite them for fresh wage negotiations.

Tamil Nadu has over 22,000 buses with a workforce of about 143,000 employees and over 10 rounds of talks have been held between the trade unions and government representatives, including transport minister M.R. Vijayabhaskar. The strikers agreed to the State Govt.'s proposal to increase their pay via 2.44 times hike formula and called off the strike.

The court, which came down heavily on the striking workers for holding the people to ransom, asked the unions to listen to their conscience while taking a call on the issue.

The unions, including DMK-affiliated LPF and CITU, rejected the state government's ultimatum to return to work or face "consequences" and also claimed they had not received the court order.

However, on Thursday, the unions told the Madras High Court that they would resume work immediately if the court would refer the wage dispute to arbitration.

Responding to the criticism of striking before the busy Pongal holiday period, he said, "The Transport Minister will have to solve it", essentially not giving the government in general and the minister in particular any breathing room with regards to an outcome of the discussions.

Southern Railway operated more services to cope with the extra rush due to the ongoing strike. However, the bus strike will continue. Though the strike is statewide, the bulk of those affected will be in populous urban areas.

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