Thousands of commuters were left stranded across the state as the indefinite strike called by some transport unions over wage-related issues entered the fourth day today. Even as private buses were being operated, many passengers complained that they did not carry destination boards unlike government buses. “I have been waiting here for two hours…I need to go to Vandalur but I do not know which bus to board. We have to go ask the bus drivers every time,” Kanagavel, a passenger at Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus here said. In several districts, a majority of the buses stayed off roads prompting the transport department authorities to operate them with temporary drivers and conductors. The state government claimed that 66.49 per cent of buses belonging to State Transport Undertakings were plying since last night across the state.
Transport Minister M R Vijayabaskar had yesterday said many employees were getting back to work considering the wage revision offered by the government, besides respecting the Madras High Court directive. He had exuded confidence that more employees will return to work and operations would resume across the state today. Meanwhile, the Southern Railway operated weekday services today instead of weekend reduced services in Chennai Beach-Tambaram and MRTS suburban sector to accommodate extra rush in view of the strike.
The frequency of local trains will be every 10 minutes on Chennai Beach-Tambaram section, instead of every 20 minutes, and a train every 15 minutes on MRTS section instead of every 20 minutes, a Southern Railway release had said. DMK, the main opposition party in the State assembly, had urged the government to hold talks with trade unions and bring an end to the impasse. As many as 17 trade unions had launched an indefinite stir since Thursday night, with scores of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) staff joining the protest.
The striking unions want the ‘factor’ for wage revision to be fixed at 2.57 times while the state government insisted it be 2.44. On January 5, the Madras High Court had issued an interim order restraining employees from striking work. The government had also issued an ultimatum, asking workers to return to work, else it will not hesitate to take action as per law. However, the trade unions were firm on their demand and said agitation would continue till their demands on wage revision were met.