Tamil Nadu Transport Minister appeals to bus employees

Tamil Nadu Transport Minister appeals to bus employees

After the wage-related talks with the government failed 10 unions had announced the strike.

The government has invited those possessing valid driving licences to approach local bus depots to be used as substitute drivers.

M. Shanmugam of the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), who backed the Labour Progressive Federation (LPF), said after the meeting, "While our plea was for a 2.57% wage hike, the government said it was not acceptable and insisted on a 2.44% hike".

"I appeal to employees to come back for duty, honorable court has also asked them to come back", Vijayabhaskar said addressing media here on the third day of the strike.

"If (the transport staff) continue with the protest and cause trouble to people, the government will not hesitate to take action as per law against them", he added.

General Secretary of DMK-backed LPF, M Shanmugam, said they were not anxious about action from the government since any protest would attract action.

Meanwhile, the Southern Railway, in an official release, said, "It is made a decision to operate weekday services instead of weekend reduced services in Chennai Beach-Tambaram and MRTS suburban sector to accommodate extra rush in view of the strike". In Villupuram division, officials said that while a majority of the buses were off roads in the morning. In Madurai, Salem and Tirunelveli very few buses plied.

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Gayathri, a commuter said that it was very hard to reach office due to the lack of buses. "The government should understand the plight of the citizens and find a solution to the problem at the earliest", she said.

Around 1.8 crore passengers avail the bus services across the state, reports said.

The Madras High Court on Friday ruled that the striking bus drivers in Tamil Nadu should go back to work immediately. Besides, private buses were also roped in to meet the situation at several places. The unions want a 2.57 per cent hike but the government is willing to increase salaries by 2.44 per cent.

The unions and government also did not come to a consensus on the minimum basic pay structure.

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.

The government today called for temporary drivers to operate buses.

DMK working president MK Stalin on Friday, spoke to Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi Palanisamy over phone and expressed concern over the ongoing transport strike and urged the government to expedite talks with the unions.

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