Chennai, January 10: Even after a week, transport workers in Tamil Nadu are continuing with their indefinite strike, spurning the state government’s offer to more than double their wages, as the Chief Minister appealed to them in the state Assembly to accept the proposal and call off the stir.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami said in the Assembly that the government was willing to increase wages by 2.44 times but the workers want a 2.57-time hike. As many as 17 trade unions, including those affiliated to the DMK and the Left, are on an indefinite strike, having rejected the government’s hike proposal.
Palaniswami told the Assembly it had been decided that wages would be raised by 2.44 times. “Salary has been hiked. It is not fair to ask that it should be further increased…I appeal to workers…they should return to work,” he said.
The Madras High Court had on Monday refused to lift its January 5 interim order restraining the employees from going on a strike but directed the government not to dismiss them from service without its permission.
The trade unions, however, had said that the employees were “firm” on their demands and announced that the indefinite strike would continue.
The strike severely affected commuters, even though the government tried to keep the transport services running by bringing in temporary drivers and conductors in addition to the employees who were not on strike.
Commuters, however, were inconvenienced by the reduced number of buses on the roads.
There was also uncertainty about advance booking for special buses for ‘Pongal’, which normally commences ahead of the harvest festival on January 14. Many were unable to do so as the advanced booking counters remained shut at the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus today.
The Southern Railway ramped up train services to cope with the extra rush caused by the ongoing strike.
Union minister of state Pon Radhakrishnan, talking to reporters in Nagercoil, wanted both the government and unions to find a solution to the problem of wage revision by “ceding their stand without standing on prestige”.
In a related development, 19 employees of transport corporations in Madurai, Thanjavur and Kumbakonam have been suspended for allegedly indulging in violence and causing damage to public property during the strike.
With inputs from PTI