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

Commuters were hit hard by a strike called by employees of Tamil Nadu state transport corporations on Thursday night.- Bijoy Ghosh

Commuters were hit hard by a strike called by employees of Tamil Nadu state transport corporations on Thursday night.- Bijoy Ghosh

The minister said, "I appeal to employees to come back for duty, honorable court has also asked them to come back".

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.

In a statement to media on Friday, Vijaybhaskar said 13th wage revision for transport employees was held on January 4.

Ex-transport min Senthil Balaji extended his support to the strike The DMK, Left parties and other opposition leaders as well as actor Kamal Haasan urged the government to bring the strike to an end by holding talks with trade unions.

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Taking a serious view of the strike called by certain unions, it said the workers should get back to work or "face consequences", including termination and contempt of court. "Recourse to lighting strikes or flash strikes without notice leads to the consequences of denying the citizens of their right to free movement and is clearly illegal and against the public interest", the judge said while passing interim orders on a PIL filed in this regard.

Unions today announced that the strike will continue till their demands are met. Chief Justice Indira Banerjee had said that workers could not go on such sudden strikes without any prior intimation. If the government takes action, the employees must face it.

However, the unions said they had not received the High Court's order, adding that the court had not heard their side, PTI reported.

K. Natarajan, treasurer, Labour Progressive Federation, said only 10% of the fleet of 22,000 buses in the entire eight State transport corporations were operated on Friday. In some towns, strikers got into the scuffle with operational buses.

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Officials said buses were being run by utilising services of workers affiliated to ruling AIADMK-backed union ATP. Transport minister M R Vijayabhaskar said the government agreed to enhance the wage by 2.44%. They called the strike on Thursday after they said talks with Vijayabhaskar on revising their salary and pending dues and arrears amounting to almost Rs 7,000 crore did not result in any breakthrough.

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

Police were posted at bus depots to prevent any untoward incidents.

A majority of the people continued to rely on trains, autorickshaws and private buses for their daily commute.

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