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Tamil Nadu transport unions strike continues

Press Trust of India, Chennai, Jan 5 2018, 14:05 IST
Buses remain parked at the depot following a flash strike by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) employees, in Madurai on Friday. PTI Photo

Buses remain parked at the depot following a flash strike by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) employees, in Madurai on Friday. PTI Photo

Strike by transport unions across Tamil Nadu over wage-related issues entered the second day today, causing hardships to people, with the government making all out efforts to address the situation.

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. Office-goers and students bore the brunt of the strike.

The agitating trade unions, however, remained firm on their demands relating to a wage-fixation mechanism. CITU leader A Sounderrajan, who participated in talks with government yesterday, said today that "not even 10 per cent" of buses were being operated across Tamil Nadu." Further, seven unions joined the strike today, taking the number to 17, he told reporters here.

Ten unions had announced launching the strike yesterday after wage-related talks with the government failed. "The strike is on successfully. The government is using ruling party members (drivers) to run the buses.

As many as 95 per cent of workers have not reported for duty.... not even 10 per cent of the buses are plying," he said. Sounderrajan, who held discussions with other trade unions, including the DMK-backed Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) today, urged the government to hold talks to settle the issue amicably, even as he expressed regret over difficulties caused to commuters following the strike.

"The government should invite us for talks and settle the issue amicably or the strike will intensify... the Chief Minister himself should intervene," he said. He reiterated that transport corporation employees resorted to strike as they had no other option on the matter. Government sources said efforts were on to ply buses.

Employees affiliated to ruling AIADMK-backed Anna Thozhirsanga Peravai were plying buses, but reports reaching here said a large number of vehicles were off the road in different parts of the state like Chennai, Villupuram, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Madurai among others.

The government has invited those possessing valid driving licences to approach local bus depots to be used as substitute drivers.

Police were posted at bus depots to prevent any untoward incidents. Following the strike, commuters alleged over-charging by autos and private buses even as many opted for suburban rail services in Chennai.

Ten trade unions had announced launching the indefinite strike yesterday after their talks with the government over a key demand on a "factor" determining wage structure failed. The unions wanted the 'factor' to be fixed at 2.57 while the government insisted that it be 2.44. The unions and government also did not come to a consensus on the minimum basic pay structure.

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