All trade unions of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, except the Anna Tholilalar Sangam, affiliated to the AIADMK, has announced a state-wide bus strike on Monday.
The decision to call for a strike came after talks between trade unions and the government over pending wages and Provident Fund to the tune of several crores hit a dead-end. The strike is all set to put lakhs of passengers in trouble on Monday as almost 30,000 buses will not be plying.
Representatives of the various unions met Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar in Chennai on Sunday, but talks failed.
The unions have called for a strike only on Monday, but reports from many parts of the state indicate that irate bus drivers and unions had already begun the strike.
Though the unions announced the strike, the minister told the media that state-run buses would operate as usual on Monday.
The Hindu and PTTV reported that many buses had already been stopped in parts of Coimbatore, Trichy, Madurai and other districts in the state. Many passengers were inconvenienced as buses were suddenly taken off the roads. Stranded on the roads, passengers complained that trade unions going on a strike without prior notice were unfair.
In many parts of the state, bus depots were locked down in the afternoon itself. Buses plying to interior parts in many districts were stopped.
"This is not a sudden strike. We have been asking for our dues for months. If the government cannot give us that, we have no other option," a bus driver from Trichy said.
A Soundarajan, CITU president, told TNM, â€śFor the last four years, the transport department has been incurring losses. The expenditure has been much more than the income. We make losses of Rs 5 crore per day. Also, the government is not providing retirement benefits like PF and pension. We are going to protest till government provides a solution. Most of the buses will be off the road on Monday except the ones run by AIADMK union drivers."
â€śWe spoke to the minister for many hours, but the government does not consider this as a service and does not feel responsible for the employees,â€ť a union leader told the media after the meeting.