Tamil Nadu transport unions went on an indefinite strike Friday after talks with the AIADMK-led government failed. Union leaders and the government are at loggerheads over wage revisions, minimum pay and pending arrears amounting to Rs 7,000 crore, reported news agency PTI. Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami chaired a meeting to take stock of the situation, as opposition parties, including the DMK and the Left, urged the government to end the impasse.
“While our plea was for a 2.57 factor (a wage determination technique), the government said it was not acceptable and insisted on a 2.44 factor,” union leader M Shanmugam of DMK was quoted as saying by PTI. He added that while unions are also demanded a minimum basic salary of Rs 19,500, while the government wants it at Rs 17,700.
Union leaders expect nearly 95 per cent of the 1.4 lakh workforce to join the protest, disrupting services in the state.
Transport minister M R Vijayabaskar, meanwhile, termed the proposed hike was “unprecedented” and appealed to workers to resume their duties. The government’s 2.44 factor will result in an additional expense of Rs 81 crore per month, reported PTI. Vijayabaskar also claimed that 35 unions have accepted the government’s proposal.
“We regret that people will suffer… we are ready for talks anytime,” A Soundarrajan, a CPI (M) leader, said, but added that there was no other way to tackle the government ‘s approach.
The strike has impacted commuters in the state, with many facing trouble getting around. Even before the strike was officially announced, some buses had stopped plying on Thursday. “We are suffering because of the strike as less number of buses are plying and private buses are overcharging,” a school student from Coimbatore was quoted as saying by news agency ANI today.
(With inputs from PTI)