Transport workers in TN reject Madras HC direction to call off strike

The buses stand still at Koyambedu Mofussil Bus terminus following the flash strike by the Transport Employees

As the strike entered the second day on Friday crippling operation of the eight transport corporation running about 21,000 buses, the first bench of the High Court headed by Chief Justice Indira Banerjee ordered the workers to resume work or face the outcome including termination and contempt of court.

"There will be an interim order restraining the transport workers, specially, the drivers and conductors, from taking recourse to strike", the court said.

A collector, according to The Times Of India, claimed the bus services were affected least in Salem district where around 86% of government buses are operating. The transport workers affiliated to 17 trade unions including DMK affiliated Labour Progressive Front, CITU and AITUC resorted to a flash strike from Thursday evening after the talks with the state government failed leaving thousands of commuters, particularly office-goers and students, stranded across the state. We will once again meet at 5 pm today and intensify the strike till the government agrees for our proposals.

The MLA's effort, however, has not gone down well with local union leaders representing transport workers. The minister said, "I appeal to employees to come back for duty, honorable court has also asked them to come back".

Reading out a statement before reporters, he said the government had proposed a "very good" wage revision agreement despite financial issues faced by the transport corporations. The High Court said that the government could take action against those who have stopped work.

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He also said that instances of striking employees "intimidating" others who wanted to work had been reported.

Responding to the government warning of action, Sounderrajan said it did not befit the former and insisted that it should opt for talks to end the stalemate.

"Why are you not taking action against them", the minister was seen asking haughtily to policemen.

Meanwhile, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) working president M.K. Stalin spoke to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy over the telephone and expressed concern over the ongoing transport strike, urging the government to expedite talks with the unions. The commuters complained that auto rickshaws and taxis charged exorbitant fares as the public transport system was hit.

Anticipating that the High Court ruling would not result in normal operation of buses as the trade unions are firm in their stance of continuing the strike until all their demands are met, passengers had made their own arrangements to reach their destinations.

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