Ahead of the Pongal holidays in Tamil Nadu, transport workers have called an indefinite bus strike starting on Tuesday, January 9, alleging that the state government has not been considering any of their demands. The strike, called by a coalition of various unions including Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), had put forth several demands including raising wages, releasing Dearnance Allowances (DA) for retired workers and filling vacancies in bus driver and conductor posts. According to the unions, the DA of Rs 6000 per month for retired workers has not been released for the last eight years.
Speaking at a press conference at Chennai’s Teynampet, CPI(M) MLA for Perambur and CITU leader A Soundarajan said on Monday, January 8, “The state government has said that none of the demands can be considered as of now and that any further talks would be held after Pongal. This is a thoroughly unjust and unsatisfactory reply. This is not what we expect from any government.”
Workers are demanding data on earnings and expenditure incurred by the state Transport Department, releasing long-pending DA for retired personnel, starting talks regarding the 15th wage revision agreement and raising wages based on the agreement, filling current vacancies for bus drivers and conductors, and postings for a family member of those who have died during service.
“The state government said that they cannot accept any of our demands. To our deep regret we must point out that the government considers transportation workers second-class citizens. Transport workers are subjected to injustices that workers in no other government department face,” Soundarajan said at the press meet adding, “DA for retired workers has not been released for 8 years. Nearly 90,000 pensioners have not received the monthly DA of Rs 6,000. Consider how much money that adds up to. That these people are forced to run their households without these funds is deeply saddening.
After the announcement, a message declaring the strike has been written up on the notice board at the Thiruvanmiyur bus depot. Reports say that on January 8 alone, buses will stop service in a stagnated manner so that passengers are not heavily impacted.