Civilians Struggle as Transport Unions call for Strike in Tamil Nadu

The public buses in Tamil Nadu refused to function on January 5, 2018, in the wake of an indefinite strike called by 12 transport unions across the state, as reported by NDTV. The strike was announced on the evening of January 4th after the demands of the state transport workers union regarding salary increment was turned down by Transport Minister MR Vijayabaskar. A large number of commuters were left stranded at the bus stands as only a few buses plied in Chennai and other cities.

Reports from Times of India stated that the key demand of the transport workers was a hike in their wages, making it equivalent to the salary of the drivers in state government corporations. While the government was ready to boost the wages by 2.44%, the union insisted for 2.57% raise. The demands of the Labour Progressive Federation was supported by opposition party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) minister M. Shanmugam.

However, the workers associated with the ruling party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) refrained from joining the strike. Following the strike, A. Soundarrajan of Centre of Indian Trade Unions said that they would like to have further negotiations to solve the matter. Nonetheless, Vijayabaskar stated that the wage growth offered by the government is indisputable and advised the workers to return to their duties. He also added that the strike was a political agenda planted by the opposition party.

Tamil Nadu houses a navy of 22,500 buses with a workforce of 1.4 lakhs. The capital city, Chennai holds around 3,500 buses, as reported by Times of India. Thus the strike has put the citizens in a situation of inconvenience as 15,000 buses remained off the streets. This resulted in the unmanageable crowd in the Metro and suburban trains. Auto rickshaws took advantage of the situation and overcharged their passengers.