Minister warns of action as transport strike continues

While the Transport Minister warned the striking employees of the State transport corporations of stern action if they failed to return to work immediately, trade unions resolved to rally support to the strike by staging protest demonstrations in all districts on January 8.

As both the government and the unions are unwilling to budge from their stand, the transport strike is expected to continue on Sunday as well.

Speaking to reporters at Karur, Transport Minister M.R. Vijayabhaskar claimed that more than 80% of the government buses were operated in the State on Saturday. A press release said that, on an average, 66% of the fleet of various operations was operated across the State.

‘Uncalled for’

The Minister alleged that a few workers belonging to unions affiliated to Opposition parties were creating trouble and threatening the crew members operating buses. “It was totally uncalled for and departmental action would be taken against them,” he warned.

Mr. Vijayabhaskar said a new wage agreement for transport employees had been reached after 23 rounds of talks. He himself had presided over 13 rounds of talks with the representatives of various unions. However, the CITU and DMK-affiliated unions, who refused to accept the new wage agreement, were spearheading the strike.

The workers had been given a wage hike that no other government had given. Moreover, the State government had allotted ₹1500 crore to settle the dues for retired transport workers, he said.

After a meeting on Saturday evening, the trade unions on strike announced that they would hold protest demonstrations in all the districts. The union leaders charged that while they were negotiating for a 2.57% increase, the government discreetly tried to reach an agreement with unions supporting the ruling party.

The issues had already been taken to the court and the government has not granted the sum even after contempt of court proceedings were initiated, leaders of the striking unions said in a joint statement.

The courts already gave delayed verdicts and the administration failed to honour the verdict, they said, and added that the court order staying the strike had shocked the workers. They sought the personal intervention of the Chief Minister.

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