Bus crew intent on continuing to strike in Tamil Nadu

Passengers stranded at Mattuthavani bus stands following a flash strike by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation employees in Madurai on Friday. PTI

Temporary bus drivers and conductors were employed to run buses in Tamil Nadu as strike by Transport workers unions continued for fourth day on Sunday.

On Thursday, over 30 trade unions under the state transport corporations had met state transport minister MR Vijaybhaskar and presented their demand of having a hike of 2.57 percent in their salary, while the minister stressed on a salary hike of 2.44 percent.

Stating that the High Court order to call off the strike goes against natural justice, the unions blamed the government for the inconvenience caused to the commuters.

The unions, including DMK-affiliated LPF and CITU, rejected the state government's ultimatum to return to work or face "consequences", issued following the court directive.

Tamil Nadu MLA KR Rajakrishnan on Saturday drove a bus and dropped off 70 commuters at their destinations after he saw their plight when he visited a bus terminus to assess the impact of the state transport strike, The News Minute reported.

On January 5, the Madras High Court had issued an interim order restraining employees from striking work.

"The striking workers should go back to work or face consequences, including termination and contempt of court", it said during the hearing of a PIL seeking a direction to the state government to end the strike by holding talks. The commuters complained that auto rickshaws and taxis charged exorbitant fares as the public transport system was hit.

CITU leader A Soundarrajan said he felt the court had not heard their side and that the unions will put forth their views on Monday before the bench.

Stating that the public transport should be operated with a service motive and not a profit motive, Mr. Ramakrishnan accused the government of ignoring the major trade unions and urged it to resolve their issues immediately through talks.

While the unions were demanding an increase in wages by 2.57 times, the government reportedly wanted to settle down their demands by raising it to 2.41 times. So we demanded at least to provide a hike of 2.57 times on par with other government departments.

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