Scores of commuters in Tamil Nadu were stranded on Friday after state transport workers’ unions announced an indefinite strike. They called the strike on Thursday evening after unions said talks with Transport Minister MR Vijayabaskar on revising their salary and pending dues and arrears amounting to nearly Rs 7,000 crore did not result in any breakthrough.
With 1.4 lakh workers in bus services, there are 22,500 buses on Tamil Nadu roads, NDTV reported. Of these, around 15,000 were off the roads on Friday in protest. At least 1.8 crore passengers travel every day on an average in the state.
As a result of the strike, Metro and suburban train services were heavily crowded on Friday morning, The New Indian Express reported. Auto drivers were also reported to have increased the fare to three times the normal charges.
On Friday afternoon, Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami called for a meeting to take stock of the situation, after the Opposition, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Left, asked the government to step in and end the strike.
“I boarded a bus to Ayyapanthangal from Broadway, but the conductor said the bus would be halted at Vadapalani and we would have to get down,” a commuter told The New Indian Express. “I finally took a cab to reach home and ended up shelling out what I would spend for five days of travel for my work.”
The bus unions have demanded a 2.57% increase in the salary, but the government has agreed to increase it only by 2.44%, PTI reported. The unions have also demanded a minimum basic salary of Rs 19,500, whereas the government proposed a salary of Rs 17,700.
“We don’t want to subject the public to hardship but the government is pushing us,” Centre of Indian Trade Union leader Soundarrajan told PTI. “It doesn’t want to treat us equally as drivers in other departments. Is our demand unfair? We are not responsible for transport corporations running on losses.”