Tamil Nadu: Govt appeals transport employees to come back for work

Commuters were hit hard by a strike called by employees of Tamil Nadu state transport corporations on Thursday night.- Bijoy Ghosh

"Those who don't come to work and cause hardship to the public must face the consequences, whoever they may be", the court said.

Following the strike, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palansiwami today held a high level meeting with Transport Minister M R Vijayabaskar at the secretariat today. "This wage agreement had the highest revision proposed, where the minimum was Rs 2,684 while the highest was Rs 11,361", the Minister said.

The unions, including DMK-affiliated LPF and CITU, rejected the state government's ultimatum to return to work or face "consequences" and also claimed they had not received the court order.

Yesterday, the Madras High Court had issued an interim order restraining the employees from striking work. "But workers have gone on strike causing inconvenience to the public", he said.

Office-goers and students bore the brunt of the strike by employees owing allegiance to 17 unions. If the government takes action, the employees must face it.

Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) leader A. Soundarrajan said they were ready for talks and regretted that people will suffer.

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DMK working president MK Stalin urged chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami to end the imbroglio by holding talks with the unions and giving them a "good Pongal gift".

When Express tried to find out what was the reason behind people not thronging bus stands, as is the norm, it came to light that after the strike began on Thursday evening most people chose to stay home on Friday. "More than 50 % of buses are operated in Coimbatore", collector T N Hariharan said.

Tamilnadu has a fleet of 22,500 buses, with 1.4 lakh workers in the State's employment. In some towns, strikers got into the scuffle with operational 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.

Ten unions had announced launching the strike on Thursday after collapse of talks on wage revision. In a joint statement, workers unions said the government had held 21 rounds of talks with them in the last 16 months but had not been able to come to a decision on the wage revision issue. Besides, private buses were also roped in to meet the situation at several places.

Following the strike, commuters alleged over-charging by autos and private buses even as many opted for suburban rail services in Chennai.

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