Tamil Nadu: Govt appeals transport employees to come back for work

Office-goers stranded at a bus terminus in Chennai on Friday as employees of Tamil Nadu state transport corporations went on strike from Thursday night - Bijoy Ghosh

The trade unions, however, stood their ground, turning defensive while the government jumped got into firefighting mode, roping in temporary drivers and conductors to tide over the crisis. "The 2.57 factor (a wage determination technique) is our demand and talks should be held for that", he said.

"I request the employees and trade unions who are involved in this unnecessary strike to realise the factual situation and get back to work as per the court directive", the transport minister said after the court's order.

Later, the government also issued an ultimatum, asking the workers to return to work, else it will not hesitate to take action as per law.

"The alternative measures that are being taken by the government will only worsen the problem".

A majority of the people continued to rely on trains, autorickshaws and private buses for their daily commute. Ten unions had announced launching the strike yesterday after wage-related talks with the government failed.

Labour Progressive Federation (DMK backed) general secretary M Shanmugam said that the government may be able to operate the buses with the help of temporary drivers, but this will not bring a permanent solution.

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Tamilnadu has a fleet of 22,500 buses, with 1.4 lakh workers in the State's employment. 'Out of the 145 buses from the Central depot only 50 buses were operated, similarly only 20 buses were operated from the Thiruvottiyur bus terminus out of the total 110 buses and only 33 buses were operated from the Tambaram depot, ' sources added. In Madurai, Salem and Tirunelveli very few buses plied. Unions are demanding 2.57% hike in wages but State Transport Minister M.R Vijayabhaskar said the government could only agree to 2.44% increase. Besides, private buses were also roped in to meet the situation at several places. So we demanded at least to provide a hike of 2.57 times on par with other government departments.

The unions and government also did not come to a consensus on the minimum basic pay structure. Chennai accounts for a large share of this with 3,500 buses in the city.

Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar appealed to the unions to return to work.

DMK working president MK Stalin on Friday, spoke to Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi Palanisamy over phone and expressed concern over the ongoing transport strike and urged the government to expedite talks with the unions.

The government today called for temporary drivers to operate buses.

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