Tamil Nadu

HC order on bus strike stays

Court flays government for not paying workers even statutory dues

The Madras High Court on Monday refused to vacate an interim order passed by it on Friday restraining State transport corporation employees, especially bus drivers and conductors, from continuing the ongoing strike demanding better wages than what was offered by the State government during the wage revision talks held on Thursday.

Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose said they were not inclined to vacate the order because those affected due to the strike were not those in power but only the poor, including daily wagers, who could lose their wages if they did not report to work on a daily basis, and the school students dependent on public transport.

In the same breath, the judges came down heavily on the State government as well as the transport corporations for not having paid even the statutory dues to the tune of several thousand crores to retired as well as serving employees of the corporations. They expected the authorities concerned to clear those dues forthwith.

Since it was reported that a Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and M. Govindaraj was already seized of another case related to non-payment of dues to former as well as existing transport corporation workers, the Chief Justice directed the Registry to post the present public interest litigation petition also before that Bench.

In a partial modification of an order passed by it on Friday when it was held that any transport worker restraining from work would be doing so at the risk of the consequences thereof, including termination, the first Division Bench on Monday ordered that no one should be terminated from service without the leave of the court.

During the course of the hearing on the PIL petition on Monday, Senior Counsel V. Prakash and advocates N.G.R. Prasad, C.K. Chandrasekhar and a few others representing various trade unions brought it to the notice of the court that State transport corporations were reeling under liabilities to the tune of ₹17,064.88 crore as on June 30 this year.

Of the total liabilities, they had to pay a whopping ₹1,138.66 crore to retired employees, ₹5,349.93 crore to those in service and around ₹10,576.29 crore towards loans and other dues.

It later agreed to pay the arrears of ₹1,138.66 crore in three instalments and even those instalments were not paid properly. Insofar as the employees in service were concerned, not even a penny had been paid to them.

‘Wind up corporations’

Fully in agreement with the grievances of the employees, the Chief Justice remarked that the State government should wind up the transport corporations and privatise them if it could not manage them properly.

However, Ms. Banerjee tried to make the employees see sense in the fact that their strike was affecting the common people who were in no way responsible for workers’ plight.

“Our only concern is who suffers because of the strike. I will not suffer because I travel by a car... The Ministers or the top officials of transport corporations will not suffer. Those who use Ola and Uber (car rental services) will not suffer. It is the poor who suffer...people who go to government hospitals in buses are the ones who suffer,” she said.

In his submissions, Advocate-General Vijay Narayan said the trade unions were now claiming non-payment of arrears as the reason for the strike against wage revision that was cited earlier.

A letter from the Editor

Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 30, 2020 5:10:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-order-on-bus-strike-stays/article22400047.ece

Next Story