Taking a serious view of the strike called by certain transport unions, the Madras High Court on Friday said the workers should get back to work or "face consequences", including termination and contempt of court.
Tamil Nadu Transport Minister M.R. Vijayabhaskar on 6 January appealed to striking bus employees to return to work. "The 2.57 factor (a wage determination technique) is our demand and talks should be held for that", he said. The transport workers affiliated to 17 trade unions including DMK affiliated Labour Progressive Front, CITU and AITUC resorted to a flash strike from Thursday evening after the talks with the state government failed leaving thousands of commuters, particularly office-goers and students, stranded across the state.
"There will be an interim order restraining the transport workers, specially, the drivers and conductors, from taking recourse to strike", the court said. "We demanded the transport workers wages to be raised on par with government employees but they did not agree".
Though the government has said that 85 per cent of the buses were operated in the State, the transport unions who called for the strike said that not even 10 per cent buses were plying. "But workers have gone on strike causing inconvenience to the public", he said.
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The Madras High Court on Friday directed the striking unions to withdraw the strike immediately or face action.
However, the unions said they had not received the High Court's order, adding that the court had not heard their side, PTI reported.
DMK working president MK Stalin urged chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami to end the imbroglio by holding talks with the unions and giving them a "good Pongal gift".
Due to the ongoing strike, the bus services crippled totally in large parts of the state on Friday.
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Around 1.8 crore passengers avail the bus services across the state, reports said. But soon after the meeting, transport minister M R Vijayabaskar ruled out any negotiations with the trade unions.
The government has invited those possessing valid driving licences to approach local bus depots to be used as substitute drivers.
Following the strike, commuters alleged over-charging by autos and private buses even as many opted for suburban rail services in Chennai. Besides, private buses were also roped in to meet the situation at several places.
In the capital city, Chennai, a stone pelting incident has occurred at a bus depot.
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