Tamil Nadu

Busmen to start indefinite strike today

Halted and shedded: Following the call for an indefinite strike, buses parked at the Anna Nagar West depot in Chennai on Thursday.  

Having called a strike on Thursday, the nine transport trade unions affiliated to Opposition parties have proposed to begin an indefinite strike, saying the government is yet to offer talks.

Labour Progressive Federation senior leader K. Natarajan said, “The trade unions would go on an indefinite strike from tomorrow [Friday]...”

‘It is illegal’

Senior officials of the Transport Department said Transport Minister M.R. Vijayabhaskar had already announced an interim relief of ₹1,000 a month for all employees of the eight State Transport Undertakings (STUs) and had also assured them of continuous talks on a wage revision. Hence, the call for an indefinite strike was illegal, they said.

A senior official of the Transport Department said more than 55% of the buses attached to the eight STUs were operated. He said only 15,000 to 16,000 buses were being operated because of the less than 50% occupancy mandated in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, around 8,500 buses were operated, and the occupancy rate was over 90%. He said: “The State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) operated more than 1,500 buses as we did not want long-distance passengers to suffer.”

Chennai residents experienced severe hardship because of the restricted operation of buses (only 55%) and the non-availability of suburban trains on the Beach-Tambaram section due to a cable fault. But bus services were almost 70% in Coimbatore and Erode districts. The Transport Department was able to operate more than 40% of the buses in the districts around Tiruchi and Madurai.

In the Madurai region, many commuters had a tough time as 50%-60% of the buses did not ply in the southern districts. Being a ‘muhurtham’ day, commuters could not travel from Madurai to Ramanathapuram in government buses. They were forced to take private buses, not many of which were available.

In Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Dindigul and Virudhunagar districts, 50% of the buses did not ply. In Ramanathapuram, only 30% of the 450 buses operated until 11 a.m., according to CITU district secretary M. Sivaji.

A senior transport official said in Tiruchi that at least 45% of the services were affected in the Tiruchi region, comprising Tiruchi, Perambalur and Ariyalur districts.

In Thanjavur, commuters were forced to travel in heavily crowded buses. While the unions claimed that 70% of the buses did not run, officials said 50% of the regular services were operated.

Employees, except those owing allegiance to the trade unions of the AIADMK, the PMK and the TMC, struck work.

In the Coimbatore region, tourists going to and coming from the Nilgiris were affected as very few buses were operational. Many tourists trying to use the public transport to return home or go sight-seeing were forced to hire taxis or auto-rickshaws, a tourist said.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 10:34:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/busmen-to-start-indefinite-strike-today/article33936718.ece

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