How Tamil Nadu CM Palaniswami mocked striking bus workers by proposing fat raise for MLAs

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New Delhi | Updated: January 10, 2018 4:30:25 PM

Tamil Nadu government came under the scanner after introducing a bill, on Wednesday (January 10), proposing to double the monthly salary and other allowances for MLAs even as the state reels under a crippling transport strike by transport workers, who are demanding better wages.

Tamil Nadu CM E Palaniswamy floors bill to double TN MLAs salary amid ongoing state-wide transport union protests

Tamil Nadu government came under the scanner after introducing a bill, on Wednesday (January 10), proposing to double the monthly salary and other allowances for MLAs even as the state reels under a crippling transport strike by transport workers, who are demanding better wages. The bill, if passed, will pave the way for almost doubling the salary of the state’s 235 legislators – from Rs. 55,000 to Rs 1.05 lakh a month. Chief Minister E Palaniswamy, who floored the bill in the House on Wednesday, appealed to the transport unions to accept the proposal of the government which promises a 2.44 times salary hike and call off the strike. However, the 17 Transport Unions in question have maintained that nothing less than a 2.57 times salary hike would do.

The self-rewarding move of the incumbent state government comes at a time when the strike has brought the public transport in the state virtually to a halt. Meanwhile, the state government announced a bonus for Group C and D employees ahead of three-day Pongal festival. “Salary has been hiked. it is not fair to ask that it should be further increased…I appeal to workers…they should return to work,” the chief minister said on Tuesday. On the other hand, the transport unions across Tamil Nadu have demanded that chief minister E Palaniswamy should come to the negotiation table to resolve the ongoing pay dispute.

The strike also resonated in the Tamil Nadu Assembly where DMK leader M.K. Stalin urged the Chief Minister to talk to the striking workers. He has also slammed the government’s proposal of a salary hike saying, “People will laugh at us for this hike when transport workers in the state are on strike demanding salary hike.” Rebel AIADMK leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran, speaking for the first time in the House after his RK Nagar election victory last month, also urged the government to resolve the problems of the strikers. Dhinakaran said the strike had caused great hardships to people all over Tamil Nadu, where state-run buses play a major role in transporting hundreds of thousands daily.

The judiciary also took notice of the issue. The Madras High Court had on Monday refused to lift its 5 January interim order restraining employees from going on a strike but directed the government not to dismiss them from service without its permission. While looking into grievances of striking employees, Chief Justice Indira Banerjee also remarked that Palaniswamy government should privatise transport corporations if it could not manage them properly, as per various media reports.

As of now, protesters are firm on their demands and have announced that the indefinite strike would continue till all of their demands are not agreed upon.

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