Tamil Nadu transport strike called, unions to resume work today

Tamil Nadu bus strike- File

The continuing bus strike, in a state where state-run buses ferry hundreds of thousands daily, had forced more and more people to take to local trains, making them over-crowded.

On Monday, the Madras high court directed the state government not to terminate any of the striking employees without its permission.

While there have been reports of the trade unions willing to call of the strike, CITU leader and Tamil Nadu State Transport Employees Federation president A Soundararajan insisted the strike will continue. Recalling that the State was rechristened Tamil Nadu on January 14, 1969 known till then as "Madras State", Palaniswami said, "on January 14 this year, our historic State is stepping into its fiftieth year with the name of Tamil Nadu".

While the unions wanted a 2.57 times hike, the government offered only 2.44, resulting in the stalemate.

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Describing the stir as being for the sake of the workers as also for the common people of the state, the unions have said they will intensify the stir. As ticket reservation counters remain closed, passengers had to look for other options as a mode of travel; particularly private buses whose fares have increased substantially in the wake of the bus strike.

For his part, the chief minister told the assembly, "The government is sanctioning ₹750 crore for the transport department so that employees, who have retired on or before November 30, 2017, can get their retirement benefits".

An official noting the loss the state incurred due to the workers strike said, "We incur a loss of Rs. 9 crore every day as we've not hiked tariff for years".

Even as the High court left it to trade unions on the decision to ply buses during the Pongal period, both sides are refusing to budge in their negotiations.

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