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

Tamil Nadu Several transport corporations go on sudden strike after talks with government fail

"We have chose to continue the strike and approach the Supreme Court as early as possible", said CITU chief A Soundarajajan, who held a meeting with union leaders after the court directive. "The 2.57 factor (a wage determination technique) is our demand and talks should be held for that", he said. The minister said, "I appeal to employees to come back for duty, honorable court has also asked them to come back".

He also warned that strict action will be taken against private buses who charge extra amount from passengers.

"The alternative measures that are being taken by the government will only worsen the problem". Several daily commuters are stranded on the bus stand in Chennai due to the strike.

The strike began on Friday after the failed talks between the union and state transport authorities.

Responding to the government warning of action, Sounderrajan said it did not befit the former and insisted that it should opt for talks to end the stalemate. In Villupuram division, officials said that while a majority of the buses were off roads in the morning.

Similarly, very minimum number of buses were operated from the Chrompet and Alandur depots. Soundararajan alleged that the government which have a debt of Rs three lakh crore got money to hike the salary of MLAs to Rs one lakh, increase judges salary by twice and hike wage of TN Public Service Commission members by three times to Rs 1.8 lakh.

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Private bus operators were also finding it hard as they were not aware of the routes and where to stop.

The agitating trade unions, however, remained firm on their demands relating to a wage-fixation mechanism.

Shanmugam said it has been decided that various central trade unions such as CITU and AITUC will stage state-wide protests on January 8 in support of the striking transport workers. Chennai accounts for a large share of this with 3,500 buses in the city.

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.

Meanwhile, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) working president M.K. Stalin spoke to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy over the telephone and expressed concern over the ongoing transport strike, urging the government to expedite talks with the unions.

The government today called for temporary drivers to operate buses.

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