Tamil Nadu transport unions, which have been on strike since January 4, on Wednesday said they were ready to accept the government’s offer of a 2.44-times wage revision, ANI reported. Earlier, they had demanded that their wages be raised by 2.57 times.
The unions also demanded that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami hold talks with them.
Earlier, the Madras High Court had asked the transport unions to end their strike immediately to avoid causing inconvenience to commuters with the festive season coming up, PTI reported. The court also asked the Tamil Nadu government to immediately raise the wages by 2.44 times in the sector.
Earlier in the day, Palaniswami announced that the government would release Rs 750 crore this week towards retirement benefits for transport workers, PTI reported. “I am happy to announce that the government will provide Rs 750 crore towards pending dues for those who retired up to November 30, 2017,” Palaniswami said in the state Assembly. “This will be provided before the Pongal festival [on January 14]”.
He said that with the new announcement, the government had disbursed a total of Rs 2,147 crore as retirement benefits for the transport employees, as well as Rs 292 crore to serving employees as Dearness Allowance in 2017-’18. “Therefore, with most of the demands of the transport corporation staff being accepted, the workers should immediately withdraw their strike in the interest of the people and return to work,” Palaniswami added.
On Tuesday, transport workers in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu brought their children and families along to protest. State Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar said the government has issued notices to about 60,000 workers, seeking an explanation within seven days for their absence from work.
Over the past week, the state has recruited temporary drivers and conductors with valid licences to operate government buses. But these drivers have been involved in several accidents across the state, and the number of deaths during the strike rose to six on Tuesday.