Transport workers in TN reject Madras HC direction to call off strike

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

MR Vijayabhaskar, TN Transport Minister, said, "Appeal to employees to come back for duty, the honorable court has also asked them to come back".

Meanwhile, Vijaybhaskar today appealed to striking workers to return to work.

In a statement to media on Friday, Vijaybhaskar said 13th wage revision for transport employees was held on January 4.

'Those who don't come to work and cause hardship to the public must face the consequences, ' the court told the drivers.

Soundararajan said that the workers resorted to strike as the government went ahead with signing wage agreement without talks concluding. If the government takes action, the employees must face it.

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.

Earlier, Chief Minister E Palaniswamy chaired a meeting of ministers and senior officials to take stock of the situation, even as opposition parties including the DMK and the Left, besides actor Kamal Haasan, urged the government to end the stalemate by holding talks with trade unions.

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 made a decision to stay home on Friday.

Labour Progressive Federation (DMK backed) general secretary M Shanmugam said that the government may be able to operate the buses with the help of temporary drivers, but this will not bring a permanent solution.

The workers of the transport department have been demanding for a pay scale revision to Rs 30,000. The trade unions, however, stood their ground, turning defensive while the government jumped got into firefighting mode, roping in temporary drivers and conductors to tide over the crisis.

Tamilnadu has a fleet of 22,500 buses, with 1.4 lakh workers in the State's employment.

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. Besides, private buses were also roped in to meet the situation at several places. The strike began on Thursday evening when many bus drivers in Chennai were seen abandoning their buses between 5pm and 8 pm.

Police have been posted at bus depots to prevent any untoward incidents.

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