CHENNAI: The workers' unions of seven transport corporations on Tuesday issued a 14-day strike notice to the State government demanding among other things settlement of pending arrears.
The notice was issued by 13 unions including the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) affiliated to opposition parties including the CPM, DMK, CPI, Congress and VCK.
The unions alleged that six months had passed since the government assured payment of pending dues for retired and existing workers, but they had not got the arrears for the revised wage hike for a period of 16 months. “Many workers who retired in the last six months did not get monetary benefits as promised,” K Natarajan, treasurer, Labour Progressive Federation (LPF).
The unions attribute the revenue loss of the transport corporations primarily to shortage of workers and reduction of fleet strength.
Natarajan said the State transport corporations continued to bleed even after increasing the fare in January. “While more than 500 workers retire every year, the transport corporations have not recruited new workers in the past 28 years as a result of which fleet strength has come down from 22,500 to 20,000. Thus, the revenue of the corporations also came down,” added Natarajan.
Workers of various transport unions went on strike for eight days between January 4 and 12, after the 13th wage revision talks between the government and the unions failed. The government offered wage revision of 2.44 multiplying factor, as against the employees demand of 2.57 factor.
After the eight days’ strike, the High Court of Madras intervened and appointed Justice E Padmanabhan, as an arbitrator to end the impasse between the government and the workers unions. Subsequently, based on the arbitrator’s recommendation, the High Court upheld the wage revision of 2.44 multiple factor.
CITU members said revised wage hike should have been implemented since September 2017.
“The workers who retired in the last six months have been denied pension benefits as per the revised wages,” said Balasubramanian of CITU.
The transport corporations have a workers strength of 1.43 lakh in seven corporations. Last month, as part of measures to revamp the department, the Tirunelveli division of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) merged with the Madurai division. “If government did not come forward for talks, we will go on strike from June 20,” added Natarajan.