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Six days on, striking transport workers in Tamil Nadu dig in their heels

The AIADMK government’s decision to recruit temporary drivers and conductors to get the state-run buses on the road has not provided relief to the public.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2018 14:15 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Tamil Nadu,Transport workers' strike,Pay hike demand
Government buses remain parked at a depot in Madurai following a strike by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation. (PTI)

Striking transport workers in Chennai on Tuesday brought along their womenfolk and children to hold demonstrations at different places in Chennai and other towns and cities of the state to press for their demand for higher wages.

Despite the inconvenience their strike has caused to the general public by crippling bus services for the sixth straight day, the agitating workers claimed the working class and the middle class and lower middle class people supported their cause.

But even as travelers and commuters continued to bear the brunt of the strike, the government refused to relent and maintained its wait and watch stand and carried on with its move to recruit temporary bus drivers and conductors. Unfortunately, the temporary drivers were involved in at least four accidents on Monday.

The wife of a driver who was seen protesting along with her husband and other staff complained that the demands were just.

“We are asking for the money that belongs to us. Rain or shine, the buses have to ply and people like my husband have been serving without break. And when they ask for their due, this is the treatment they are getting,” she told a private television channel.

Despite government claims that half the fleet of state-run buses were on the roads, commuters complained of severe hardship to reach offices and schools. People who wanted to visit villages for Pongal celebrations were even more worried.

Transport minister MR Vijayabhaskar announced special buses for Pongal but on the ground the buses were nowhere in sight.

“When will we go to the village and how will we get the things for festival and celerbrate? They said counters for special bus ticket bookings will open today, but no one here knows when the counters will open,” complained a farmer at Chennai’s Koyambedu bus stand.

The striking workers ignored yet another plea of the transport minister to return to work.

The strike again resonated in the legislative assembly with leader of opposition and DMK working president MK Stalin questioning the government’s handling of the issue. He also urged chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami to hold talks with the striking workers’ unions and settle the issue before Pongal.

Rebel AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran spoke for the first time in the assembly and asked the government to list out the steps it has taken to solve the problems of the striking workers. Seated opposite the treasury benches, Dhinakaran demanded that the government immediately placate the workers to end the strike as it was causing great hardship to the common people all over the state.

First Published: Jan 09, 2018 14:15 IST