Amid Transport Strike, Tamil Nadu MLA Drives Government Bus

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"The government should invite us for talks and settle the issue amicably or the strike will intensify. the Chief Minister himself should intervene", he said. The unions have also demanded a minimum basic salary of Rs 19,500, whereas the government proposed a salary of Rs 17,700.

Muthukumaran is among the thousands of transport workers who are on an indefinite strike since Thursday evening over the issue of higher wages. TNSTC tried to operate a few buses with temporary drivers and conductors.

"I appeal to employees to come back for duty, honorable court has also asked them to come back", Vijayabhaskar said addressing media here on the third day of the strike. "We will challenge the order once we get a copy of it", said A Soundararajan, president Tamil Nadu State Transport Employees Federation and CITU leader.

"The alternative measures that are being taken by the government will only worsen the problem".

General Secretary of DMK-backed LPF, M Shanmugam, said they were not anxious about action from the government since any protest would attract action.

Earlier, Chief Minister E Palaniswamy chaired a meeting of ministers and senior officials to take stock of the situation, even as opposition parties including the DMK and the Left, besides actor Kamal Haasan, urged the government to end the stalemate by holding talks with trade unions. They called the strike on Thursday evening after unions said talks with Transport Minister MR Vijayabaskar on revising their salary and pending dues and arrears amounting to almost Rs 7,000 crore did not result in any breakthrough.

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Private bus operators were also finding it hard as they were not aware of the routes and where to stop.

The strike began on Friday after the failed talks between the union and state transport authorities.

Though a good number of vans and autorickshaws were operated to various destinations, the public shunned them as the drivers collected exorbitant fare.

The government has invited those possessing valid driving licences to approach local bus depots to be used as substitute drivers. The State government offered a 2.41-2.44 times rise, which was rejected by union representatives.

Police have been posted at bus depots to prevent any untoward incidents.

Following the strike, commuters alleged over-charging by autos and private buses even as scores opted for suburban rail services in Chennai.

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