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Tamil Nadu Transport Unions Call for Indefinite Strike Demanding Pay Hike and Clearance of Dues

The indefinite strike call came after an unsuccessful talk with state transport minister M R Vijayabhaskar and union representatives.
Bus fleet

Image Courtesy: M. Vedhan/The Hindu

As the Tamil Nadu government is not ready to meet the demands of transport workers, 17 transport unions have jointly given a call for an indefinite strike since yesterday midnight. Following the protest call, thousands of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) workers are off their duties demanding a hike in pay and clearance of dues. The indefinite strike call came after an unsuccessful talk with state transport minister M R Vijayabhaskar and union representatives. 

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 2.40 times. 

“We are demanding salaries on par with other state government employees in different sectors and clearance of dues”, said A Soundararajan, a Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) leader, while talking to Newsclick. 

Around 1.4 lakh workers are working with the state transport corporation with a fleet of 22,500 buses. 17 trade unions including CITU, LPF, HMS have come together to protest demanding the rights of workers under the state transport corporation. 

“As 50 percent of the buses are off from roads, to deal with the workers strike, the state government has temporarily hired drivers and workers who are not trained and it is very dangerous,” Sounderarajan added while talking about the intervention of government in the issue. 

"An average of 1.8 crore commuters rely on transport buses on daily basis in the state, we don’t want to push the commuters to hardship. But the government is pushing us and we are only raising fair demands too," said Sounderarajan. 

On November 21, hundreds of TNSTC retired employees had protested outside the transport corporation office in various parts of the state demanding their monthly pensions on time and the clearance of various dues. The workers had gathered under the banner of Tamil Nadu State and Transport Corporation Retired Employees Welfare Association which is affiliated with CITU. 

The latest reports from the state say that the Madras High Court directed the members of all striking unions of the transport corporations of Tamil Nadu to return to work citing the contempt proceedings and the risk of being terminated from service.

The order was passed by the first Division Bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose while considering the public interest litigation petition filed by freelance journalist Varaaki.

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