TAMIL NADU

Transport workers observe fast

Transport employees with their families observing a fast at the Pallavan House In Chennai on Saturday. - Photo: M. Moorthy

Transport employees with their families observing a fast at the Pallavan House In Chennai on Saturday. - Photo: M. Moorthy  

CHENNAI Dec. 7. Transport corporation workers and their families observed a fast today in front of the corporation offices or the District Collectorates, protesting the Government decision to privatise up to 50 per cent of the bus routes.

The protest is seen by employees in the State-owned transport corporations as the start of a series of agitational programmes to impress on the Government to put the privatisation programme on hold and think of revamping and improving the services under the existing system.

The DMK-affiliated Labour Progressive Federation, which called for the protest, said the ``struggle will continue till the Government rescinds the move''.

Several trade unions have already gone to court and the Government has agreed to put off the public hearing, scheduled for December 17, by a month.

That gives the unions and employees time to chalk out their plan to oppose the move and see if they can halt the process.

For its part, the Government has made it clear that the privatisation move will not affect the issue of free bus passes for students, or bring down the number of buses.

Only, 50 per cent of these buses may be run by private operators.

But the issue that is agitating workers is the projected loss of employment - estimated at well over 30,000 when the entire process is completed.

But employees now feel that unless all unions come together, they may not be able achieve much.

Similarly, the process of revising the electricity tariff has been delayed as the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board is still preparing a comprehensive response to the protests lodged with the State Electricity Regulatory Commission by various organisations representing industry, trade, agriculture and ordinary consumers.

The TNEB had suggested that the revised tariff should come into effect from December 1. But this has now been put off. It is up to the SERC to complete the process, decide on an appropriate tariff and notify the same.

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