Chennai: The strike by transport workers demanding a pay hike in Tamil Nadu, which had crippled the state for the last eight days, was called off on Thursday evening after intervention by the Madras High Court. The staff will resume work from Friday morning.
As many as 17 trade unions, including those affiliated to the DMK and Left parties, had gone on an indefinite strike after rejecting the government’s proposal to hike the wages of the transport workers by 2.44 times.
Transport workers are demanding salaries on par with drivers in other state government corporations. The unions want a 2.57 times hike, but the government, after 23 rounds of talks, has agreed for a 2.44 times raise. The state transport minister had ruled out further negotiations citing huge losses incurred by government transport corporations.
“We incur a loss of Rs. 9 crore every day as we’ve not hiked tariff for years. We offer the cheapest travel compared to neighbouring states. The hike we’ve offered alone will cost an additional Rs. 1,000 crore a year,” an official had said.
There are about 1.4 lakh workers in the state’s transport department to handle a fleet of 22,500 buses.
On Sunday, sources in the government had told NDTV that 71 per cent buses had resumed operations. After most workers defied the Madras High Court order directing them to report for work or face consequences, the government roped in 4,578 drivers and 3,496 conductors on a temporary basis to put its fleet of 22,000 buses back on track, a senior officer had said.According to the court order, retired judge Justice E Padmanabhan, the arbitrator appointed for this, would decide on the 2.57 times hike.
CITU leader Soundararajan said, “We have suspended the strike. The arbitrator is expected to complete in a month from the date of notification.”