CHENNAI: About 80 per cent of the government buses in the State are expected to remain off roads from February 25 as transport unions announced indefinite strike. Nearly one lakh workers from nine unions, mostly affiliated to the opposition DMK will take part in the protest. The unions include Labour Progressive Federation (LPF), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) and All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).
The demands include clearance of provident fund and other retired workers dues, to cover transport corporation loss in the budget and to revise wages. “Transport corporations have been working as service sector, meaning they have been incurring losses for the benefit of the public. We have been operating in uneconomical routes too, mainly rural areas.
It costs Rs 40 per km to operate a bus and the income is only around Rs 25. So, irrespective of the transport corporation, a minimum loss of Rs 20 per km is being incurred,” said K Arumuga Nainar, General Secretary of Transport Employees Federation affiliated to the CITU, adding that the major demand is for the government to cover this deficit amount in the budget.
Government buses in the state cover 80 lakh kilometers in the State. This way, per day there is at least Rs 10 to 16 crore loss. One of the union members said that the retirement benefits of nearly Rs 1,600 crore has not been cleared yet and the provident funds and LIC money to be paid to the concerned organisations is due, despite the amount being deducted from employees salaries every month.
The workers rued that they are unable to make claims in necessary situations as the organisations say the transport department has not paid them the amount for over three months. Also, wage revision talks have been pending for over 19 months.