Tamil Nadu transport unions began a state-wide strike
Chennai,May15: Tamil Nadu transport unions began a state-wide strike on Monday, as the representatives of trade unions of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corp. (TNSTC) and state transport minister M.R. Vijayabhaskar failed to reach a consensus after several rounds of talks over the last one week.
While TNSTC buses will be off the roads, private operators hiked ticket prices on Monday morning, after Vijayabhaskar asked private operators to ply additional buses. Southern Railway pressed special trains into service.
At least 10 trade unions, including the Labour Progressive Federation (DMK) and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CPM), are participating in the stir. Over 23,000 TNSTC buses ply in the state.
TNSTC, which has a workforce of nearly 1.5 lakh employees, is demanding, among other things, settlement of pending retirement benefits and payment of operational deficit to the transport corporations.
The employees have demanded the pending amount of nearly Rs7,000 crore to be allotted, including salary hike, disbursing pension arrears and other payments to existing employees.
While the transport minister said the government will disburse Rs500 crore in September, the leaders of the transport unions did not agree and demanded disbursal at least Rs1,000 crore.
While the trade union affiliated with the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is not taking part in the strike, a section of the state transport corporation employees began the strike on Sunday evening itself. PTI reported that as many as 120 government buses and 56 mofussil buses stopped operations in Thanjavur and Tiruchirapalli districts. Buses stopped plying in Coimbatore and Nilgiris districts too on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, the Southern Railway has announced special trains in lieu of the bus strike. In Chennai, the number of suburban trains and services of the Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) have been increased. The Southern Railway announced that special unreserved long-distance train services will be operational to Tirunelveli, Tiruvarur and Coimbatore from Monday in view of the transport strike.
While buses were vandalized in certain regions of Tamil Nadu, huge deployment of police is in place.