Thousands of government buses in Tamil Nadu are likely to be off the roads from tonight as 12 transport unions have announced an indefinite strike over the pay anomaly as compared to other states. The decision to go on strike comes after the unions said that talks with the state transport minister did not result in any breakthrough today.
Commuters across the state were taken off guard as both local and long distance government buses were off the roads since early this evening even while talks were still going on.
Transport workers are demanding salary parity with drivers in other government corporations. The unions want a 2.57 per cent hike but the government is willing to increase salaries only by 2.44 per cent.
Tamil Nadu has a fleet of 22,500 buses, with 1.4 lakh workers in the state's employment.
A Soundararajan, a Centre of Indian Trade Union leader, told reporters, "We don't want to subject the public to hardship but the government is pushing us. It doesn't want to treat us equally as drivers in other departments. Is our demand unfair? We are not responsible for transport corporations running on losses".
With transport being an essential service, any strike will be viewed seriously by the courts. Mr Soundararajan added "We would explain our plight to the court".
The Transport Minister M R Vijayabhaskar is expected to explain the government's stand in the coming days.