Tamil Nadu transport strike called, unions to resume work today

Tamil Nadu transport unions say they are ready to accept government’s offer of 2.44-times wage hike

Tamil Nadu transport unions say they are ready to accept government’s offer of 2.44-times wage hike

The ongoing bus strike in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu Wednesday entered seventh straight day, officials said.

The move came after the Madras High Court appointed an arbitrator to settle the workers' wage dispute with the government.

17 trade unions and workers associated with DMK and left parties went on strike after the Tamil Nadu Government rejected their pay hike proposal. Tamil Nadu State Transport minister MR Vijayabaskar said these unions were spreading false information about the government's efforts.

The Tamil Nadu government came under controversy recently, when they almost doubled the salaries of its MLAs while the transport workers were on strike demanding increase in wages.

The chief minister announced this during the last assembly session in July.

The AIADMK backed union, besides some others, had not participated in the protests. But, the unions maintained that the strike was not only legal but also justified.

The minister, who has been accusing the unions of misleading the employees, said the present increase would result in an additional burden of Rs1,000 crore to the state exchequer. The letter was written in part due to IT employees being beneficiaries of public transport.

The workers struck work citing other demands also like pending dues for serving and retired personnel. "This will be provided before Pongal festival", he said.

While the state government has been repeatedly urged to call of the strike and called for negotiations, the trade unions are adamant at continuing the stir until their demands are accepted by the government.

A report in Thozhilalar Koodam, a blog on labour issues in Tamil Nadu, outlined some of the details of the strike. The bill proposing a pay hike looks bad given the circumstances and seems ill advised. One can deduce the obvious from proposing a pay hike for legislators while thousands of transport workers who earn a fraction of what MLA's do, demand better pay.

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