The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation strike continued for the third day on Wednesday, despite the Madras High Court directing employees to resume work immediately.
The striking bus drivers are demanding a 2.57 times wage hike, that is, a pay scale of Rs 30,000. However, the government is standing firm at a wage of Rs 24,400, said one report. The government pointed out in court on Friday that the losses incurred due to the strike is now over Rs 9 crore.
The Court had said on Friday, “You can take disciplinary action, as well as departmental action. The government has given many recommendations on strikes by nurses as well. If the government takes action, the employees must face it. Those who don’t come to work and cause hardship to the public must face the consequences, whoever they may be.”
However, as of Saturday morning, the roads still wore a relatively empty look. According to one report, the unions which rejected the government’s proposal claimed that they had not received the court’s order and had continued to protest.
The Hindu quoted an official, who had said that “the management continued to operate over 40% fleets with the help of ruling party’s trade union members and 33 temporarily recruited drivers, on Saturday”. However the main bus stands were still deserted with some of the temporary drivers also not having shown up for duty.
Speaking to Thanthi TV, Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar said, "All over TN, 80% buses are running now (as of Saturday morning). In order for all buses to run, others should respect the Court’s order and return to work. They should resume their duty. I ask this on behalf of the government. They should accept the hike that we have given them. The Madras HC has given them an order. They will come to work. If they don’t come, we will take legal action. We have spoken to them 23 times, what more can we talk?”
Speaking to TNM, A Soundararajan, a Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) leader said, “The strike is continuing and it is a demonstration of solidarity. We have not received a copy of the order. After we get the court order copy, we will contest it in court on Monday. We were not given the opportunity to present our case.”
When asked about Vijayabhaskar’s claims that 80% of the bus drivers had returned to work, the CITU leader laughed and said, “Go see the roads.” He also pointed out that contrary to the Minister’s claims, 90% of the ruling party union workers had also not returned to work.
According to reports, talks headed by the Transport Minister were held through the night on Thursday and failed due to both parties – the government and transport unions – not being able to arrive at a compromise.