With as many as ten state transport corporation unions affiliated to various opposition parties resorting to indefinite strike to press for their demands, the commuters across Tamil Nadu were hit hard today.
The unions linked to opposition DMK and the Left parties resorted to the strike amid some reports of shattering of the window panes of buses and assaulting of a driver in Tiruchirappalli allegedly by employees favouring the strikes.
Amid the ongoing strike, the state government appealed to the employees to end the strike, while blaming the opposition- backed trade unions for "politicising the issue and misleading the employees."
The striking unions, on the other hand, demanded that the state fulfil their "legitimate demands" and objected to the hiring of the drivers on ad hoc basis to cripple the strike.
They said they were ready to resolve various contentious issues through talks.
The ten trade unions today resorted to the strike after several rounds of their talks with the government on various issues including that for the upward wage revision to bring it on par with that of the employees of other PSUs, failed.
Some buses had gone off the roads yesterday itself as a section of employees went on strike.
Claiming that 75 per cent of the government buses were operated, Transport Minister M R Vijayabaskar blamed the DMK- affiliated LPF and trade unions CITU and AITUC linked to the Left parties for "having the strike as their only goal."
He said the talks did not fructify due to the rigid stance of the unions despite the government offering a staggered pay out plan.
After holding a high level discussion with top officials, the minister told reporters that the opposition-backed trade unions were "politicising the issue and misleading the employees and that is the truth."
The minister said a government order has been issued for disbursing Rs 750 crore to employees and Chief Minister K Palaniswami has promised another sum of Rs 500 crore by September while the rest of the money would be released after deliberations.
The disbursals were in respect of entitlements, including arrears payable to the employees and the retirement benefits.
"We respect the sentiments of employees. Chief Minister K Palaniswami has agreed for staggered disbursal of employees' entitlements," he said.
The minister claimed the people were not "affected" and would not be "hit by the strike."
On talks, he said there was scope for it tomorrow.
The police protection was being given to buses plying on the roads, he said, adding the government was ready to hold talks to break the logjam if the unions come forward for it.
The minister said the arrangements were being made to operate 1000 private buses in Chennai from tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Southern Railways has agreed to operate additional local services till it's required, he said.
Chennai Metro Rail too had announced a 40 per cent cut in fares to encourage better patronage and such factors had helped to address the situation, he added.
Reacting to the strike, DMK working president M K Stalin said the chief minister should come forward to fulfil the demands of the transport employees considering the hassles faced by the people.
PMK chief Ramadoss said the government should find a solution to the issue.
Meanwhile, some employees, who reported for work in Tiruchirappalli, were prevented by protesters.
Due to the stir, demand for autos and online cab aggregator services spiked with rates ruling higher than normal.
Passengers in Chennai, Tiruchirappalli and Thanjavur, among other places, complained that they had been stranded for hours after the government transport employees did not ply buses, even as crowds thronged the few available private ones.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)