The Tamil Nadu transport workers affiliated to nine trade unions commenced their indefinite strike on Thursday demanding the government to conclude the 14th wage revision talks immediately, leaving several commuters stranded across the state.
The strike by the unions, including DMK-affiliated LPF, CITU, AITUC and INTUC, is also to seek pending terminal benefits of workers retired from 2020 and non-allocation of funds in the budget to compensate the losses incurred by the corporation which is a service sector. The strike caused hardship to commuters, particularly students and office goers.
Nearly 50 percent buses plied in the state capital during the early hours and the number of government buses that operated in several districts was abysmally low.
A senior official at the state transport department said the MTC operated 50 to 57 percent buses in Chennai from 7 am to 9 am. "We have taken steps to ensure the people were not affected on account of the strike," a senior official said.
The trade union affiliated to the ruling AIADMK - Anna Trade Union - however, resorted to work in Chennai and other parts of the state, as they did not participate in the strike. In Nagercoil, Tiruchy, Madurai, Thanjavur, Cuddalore and Tiruvannamalai, for instance many buses remained at the bays and some of the bus stations wore a deserted look.
"The interim relief of Rs. 1,000 per month announced by the transport minister (M R Vijayabhaskar) is not adequate to resolve the issues faced by the employees," K Natarajan, treasurer of LPF, said. He demanded the government to hold parleys with the unions and conclude the 14th wage revision.
Apart from interim relief till the conclusion of the 14th wage revision talks, Vijayabhaskar had announced allocation of Rs 536 crore for the settlement of retirement benefits of employees who retired from service from January to April last year.
After holding discussion with Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Wednesday, the minister had said, "we had paid Rs 972 crore last month for the employees who retired between April and December 2019. With this, we have paid retirement benefits for all the employees."