Buses off road in Chennai as MTC staff strike

Transport corporations in Tamil Nadu are heavily debt-laden and don’t pay dues to employees who retire or take VRS on time

Hundreds of state-run Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) went off the roads in Chennai on Monday as drivers and conductors announced a flash strike protesting against non-payment of salary for the month of June.

The flash strike caused severe inconvenience to thousands of commuters who depend on MTC buses to reach their offices, colleges and schools. People were in for a shock as they reached bus depots and bus stops in the morning as there were no buses for hours together.

Drivers and conductors in several depots across the city reported for work in the morning but refused to carry out their responsibilities demanding an immediate deposit of their June month salaries. They said salaries are usually deposited in their bank accounts by the end of the month and so far, their wages have not been credited for the month of June.

“Also, many say only 60 per cent of their salary amount has been credited. We don’t know why salaries have not been credited. We have decided not to get onto buses till salaries are credited,” a driver at the Vadapalani bus depot in Chennai said.

Another driver said non-payment of salary is a clear indication that the corporations are running in loses. “We know for long that the government don’t support transport corporations and it is clear from the latest action,” the driver said.

However, the MTC management said the salaries were delayed due to bank holidays and will be credited by Monday evening. “I came to the depot in T. Nagar at 6.30 am but I did not get a bus till 7.30 am and I need to go to Old Mahabalipuram Road to attend college,” Mahalakshmi, a college student, said.

Transport corporations in Tamil Nadu are heavily debt-laden and don’t pay dues to employees who retire or take VRS on time. Majority of the buses and depots have been mortgaged to nationalised banks in the state.

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