Forced to work 16 hours without rest for Deepavali services: TNSTC drivers

Drivers of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) complain they are forced to work for almost 16 hours without rest to operate special buses for Deepavali.
File photo of TNSTC buses at the Tiruchy Central bus stand. (Express Photo | MK Ashok Kumar)
File photo of TNSTC buses at the Tiruchy Central bus stand. (Express Photo | MK Ashok Kumar)

COIMBATORE: Drivers of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) complain they are forced to work for almost 16 hours without rest to operate special buses for Deepavali. Warning that the corporation is putting lives at risk by forcing drivers to work continuously, Cheziyan (name changed), a driver in Coimbatore region, said,

“In view of Deepavali, the corporation instructed us not to take leave from October 21 to October 26. Most drivers are operating buses for more than one shift without a break as there is a shortage of crew. This is my second shift at the wheel continuously from Saturday.”

K Periyaswamy, zonal secretary of LPF, a workers union affiliated to the DMK, said, “There has been no recruitment of drivers and conductors in the last seven years. Almost 350 driver posts out of the requirement of 2,400 in Coimbatore region are vacant.” Further, he said crew are paid `436 for working additional shift and demanded that it should be increased at least to Rs 1000.

M Anburaj, member of a workers union in Coimbatore, said, “A driver on Coimbatore - Madurai route would take nine hours to complete a single trip. Due to shortage in driver strength, they are forced to operate two trips on the route because of Deepavali, which means he has to operate for almost 18 hours without rest.”

S Senthil kumar, general manager of TNSTC, Coimbatore, admitted that there are not enough drivers and they have no option than to ask the crew to work additional shift. “However we ensure drivers get enough rest before starting on a trip. We are not forcing anyone into additional duty.”

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