Long waits, overcrowded buses ‘strike’ normalcy

Half of govt’s bus fleet stays off roads; train trouble adds to woes

Published: 26th February 2021 06:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th February 2021 06:39 AM   |  A+A-

Passengers rush into a bus at the DMS bus stop in Chennai on Thursday | Sri Loganathan V

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Buses were overcrowded and commuters inconvenienced on Thursday, as just about half the government’s fleet of buses stayed off roads owing to a strike. Making matters worse, the frequency of suburban trains was reduced as a third line was being commissioned.

Nearly one lakh workers from nine unions, mostly affiliated to the opposition DMK, took part in the strike. The unions include the 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). Their demands include clearing provident fund (PF) and other retired workers’ dues, covering transport corporation losses in the Budget, and a revision of wages.

Passengers waited at LIC Bus stop for a long time on Thursday | Ashwin Prasath

The Metropolitan Transportation Corporation (MTC) said 56 per cent of its 3,300 buses were operated on Thursday. Due to this, most buses were overcrowded. Among the bus stops that were heavily crowded were Velachery, T Nagar, Broadway, Mylapore and Tambaram. Residents of Tambaram seemed to be affected the most, as the frequency of suburban trains too was limited.

The Southern Railway had said there would be fewer trains on Chennai Beach-Tambaram section as a third line was being commissioned. “There were neither buses nor trains. Besides using private transport, cabs were our only option, which was very costly. At a time when petrol prices are on the rise, public transport is crucial. The government should hold talks with the protesters and ensure the strike ends soon,” said K Prathibha, a resident of Guduvancherry.

Citing the reason for the strike, K Arumuga Nainar, general secretary of the Transport Employees Federation, affiliated to the CITU, said transport corporations have been incurring a loss of at least Rs 10-16 crore. The protesters’ main demand is for the government to cover this deficit amount in the Budget.
A member of the union said retirement benefits worth nearly Rs 1,600 crore have not been cleared, and provident fund and LIC dues are yet to be paid, though the amount is being deducted from employees’ salaries every month. Wage-revision talks have been pending for 19 months, the member added.

MTC strike
India Matters


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