Tamil Nadu : Bus strike called off, services resumes after eight days

Soundarrajan

"The strike is being temporarily withdrawn keeping in mind the welfare of the people of the state", he had announced.

Earlier in the day Chief Minister E Palaniswami announced in the Tamil Nadu Assembly that the government will be releasing Rs 750 crore towards retirement benefits while urging the unions to call off the strike.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) working president MK Stalin also opposed the bill and said, "People will laugh at us for this hike when transport workers in the state are on strike demanding a salary hike".

Apart from wages, the workers also cited other demands, such as pending dues for serving and retired personnel. As ticket reservation counters remain closed, passengers had to look for other options as a mode of travel; particularly private buses whose fares have increased substantially in the wake of the bus strike. Around noon, the special bench took up the case for hearing, recording the two-hour-long arguments put forth by senior counsel V Prakash and advocate N G R Prasad, who represented the unions. The unions had called for a 2.57 percent hike, to which the government offered only 2.44 percent, leading to a stalemate. "This strike is being suspended".

The move came after the Madras High Court appointed an arbitrator to settle the workers' wage dispute with the government. The workers have reportedly returned to work and have resumed their work starting this Friday.

"Our protests would continue across the state until our demands are met", said A Soundarrajan, a trade union leader.

The bench noted that government agreed to three of five demands by the unions, subject to employees resuming work from this evening.

It declined to agree to the request of the unions to refer the correctness and validity of the alleged settlement of January 4 as one of the terms of reference.

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