Amid Transport Strike, Tamil Nadu MLA Drives Government Bus

Women passengers in Tamil Nadu wait for buses to start their operation on Friday

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. Ten unions had announced launching the strike yesterday after wage-related talks with the government failed.

"This is what you get when you just bring anyone to drive a bus, which is a specialised job", said C. Muthukumaran, a driver working with the PTC in Chennai, on the incident.

Temporary workers, hired for a daily wage of ₹450, have been asked to come on Sunday also if the situation continued. He said that buses will be operated with the help of the workers in the Anna Thozhirsanga Peravai, a trade union affiliated to the AIADMK.

Transport workers have been demanding for a pay revision to Rs 30,000.

Hours later, state Transport Minister MR Vijayabaskar issued the ultimatum to the employees to resume work or face action and reiterated that the present wage agreement was "unprecedented" in many aspects. He cautioned that temporary workers roped in by the government to operate buses in lieu of striking workers is quite risky and puts the life of commuters at risk.

The striking unions wanted the "factor" for revision to be fixed at 2.57 while the government insisted it be 2.44. A few buses were operated to Kerala with the available crew.

Government sources said efforts were on to ply buses. The strike began on Thursday evening when many bus drivers in Chennai were seen abandoning their buses between 5pm and 8 pm. "The government should understand the plight of the citizens and find a solution to the problem at the earliest", she said.

However, reports received here said a large number of vehicles were off the road in different parts of the state like Chennai, Villupuram, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Madurai.

The agitating unions have been demanding a 2.57% hike in wages. The transport minister has ruled out any further hike after announcing a 2.44 % hike against the demand for 2.57 %. Chief Minister K. Palaniswami held meetings with ministers while opposition parties urged the government to accept the workers' demands.