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TN transport strike on, CM appeals to workers to resume work

Press Trust of India  |  Chennai 

Transport workers in struck work for the sixth day today, spurning the state government's offer to more than double their wages, as the appealed to them in the to accept the proposal and call off the stir.

K said in the Assembly that the was willing to increase wages by 2.44 times.

But the workers, who want a 2.57-time hike, stepped up their protest, staging a dharna with family members, including children, outside divisional offices of state-owned transport corporations across the state.

As many as 17 trade unions, including those affiliated to the and the Left, are on an indefinite strike, having rejected the government's hike proposal.

told the Assembly it had been decided that wages would be raised by 2.44 times.

"Salary has been hiked. it is not fair to ask that it should be further increased...I appeal to workers...they should return to work," he said.

As the issue triggered a war of words between the treasury and Opposition members, also sought the cooperation of of the Opposition (DMK) and others in bringing the strike to an end.

"Our stand is that this (2.44-time hike) should be accepted... The and deputy of the Opposition and members should help (in ending the strike)," he said.

The also rejected the Opposition charge that he had not held talks with the trade unions.

He said talks were held after consultations with him and the wage increase was announced by M R on his advice.

"It is everybody's desire that a cordial atmosphere should prevail," he said, adding the opposition was aware that transport corporations were in a poor financial state.

The said even during the regime Rs 922 crore had been kept pending for disbursal to retired employees.

Earlier, raising the issue, wanted to intervene to resolve the issue, and offered him his support.

He said workers had demanded a 2.57-time hike, a minimum wage of Rs 19,500 and an agreement every three years on salary hikes that would also address grade-pay differences.

Stating that the unions had scaled down their demand to 2.57 from their earlier call for a 3-time hike, he said, "It cannot be said that the workers did not cooperate."

said the strike had hit the people, especially students, and asked why was not inclined to hold talks. too wanted the to intervene in the matter.

Citing the Madras High Court's directive that employees should return to work, said the directive should be respected.

Deputy O Panneerselvam wanted to know if it was true that the DMK-affiliated LDF and Left Unions did not give a notice for the strike.

He said while negotiations were on, messages were spread through stating that the talks had collapsed -- which, he said, prompted the employees to go for a strike (on the night of January 4).

members led by objected to the statement, and urged P to expunge it.

If that was not done, his party members should also be allowed to refer to such messages, he said. As members rose to their feet, urged them to be seated and said both the views had been put on the record.

The had yesterday refused to lift its January 5 interim order restraining the employees from going on a strike but directed the not to dismiss them from service without its permission.

The trade unions, however, have said the employees were "firm" on their demands and announced that the indefinite strike would continue.

The strike severely affected commuters, even though the tried to keep the running by bringing in temporary drivers and conductors in addition to the employees who were not on strike.

Commuters, however, were inconvenienced by the reduced number of buses on the roads.

There was also uncertainty about advance booking for special buses for 'Pongal', which normally commences ahead of the on January 14. Many were unable to do so as the advanced booking counters remained shut at the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus today.

The Southern Railway ramped up to cope with the extra rush caused by the ongoing strike.

Union Pon Radhakrishnan, talking to reporters in Nagercoil, wanted both the and unions to find a solution to the problem of wage revision by "ceding their stand without standing on prestige".

In a related development, 19 employees of transport corporations in Madurai, and have been suspended for allegedly indulging in violence and causing damage to public property during the strike.

A report quoting officials said 11 workers of the unit, six in and two in had been suspended.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, January 09 2018. 18:45 IST