DMK working President M K Stalin came down heavily on the Tamil Nadu government on Friday after Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam tabled the bill seeking legislators’ salary hike in the assembly on Wednesday. Stalin condemning the move said, “The near 100% hike of MLAs’ salary is unacceptable because the issue of salary of transport workers hasn’t been settled yet. So we condemn it & till their (transport workers) demands aren’t met, all DMK MLAs will not accept the hike in the salary.” The bill seeks to nearly double the salaries of Tamil Nadu MLAs and give effect to decision taken by the government last year to hike the payment for 235 legislators and allowances for the chief minister and ministers with effect from July 1, 2018. The legislators’ salaries will be increased from Rs 55,000 to 1.05 lakh a month. The bill was opposed by DMK whip R Sakkarapani along with rebel AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran as the self-rewarding move came amidst statewide transport strike that had virtually brought the entire state population to a halt. The state government had also announced a raise for the Group C and D staff ahead of the three-day Pongal festival.
The Chief Minister to alleviate the transport hike on Wednesday had appealed to the transport unions to accept the proposal of the government which promises 2.44 times salary hike. However, the 17 transport unions demanded a raise of at least 2.57 times of the current wage. Dhinakaran resonating Stalin’s voice had opposed the bill saying that the government would be mocked for tabling such a bill at a time when people were going through hardships as state-run transport buses play a major role in transporting commuters across the state.
The transport unions went on indefinite strike from January 5, 2018 among which some were affiliated to DMK and Left. The strike was announced by Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), and All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) owing to their unfulfilled demands. The transport unions decided to enforce the strike after talks between government and transport unions which was going on for 16 months had ended in stalemate in which the transport workers urged the government to provide better wages and buses in good condition and had also complained about money being deducted from their wages.
However, it has been reported that CITU leader A Soundarajan has called off the strike from Friday and asked workers to resume duties.