Chennai: State-run buses were back on roads in Tamil Nadu as employee unions withdrew their strike after eight days. The officials of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) claimed to have operated 100 per cent fleet on Friday. Sources said more than 50 per cent of the fleet was operational from 8 pm on Thursday itself.
The Pongal-eve stir had caused hardship to thousands of long-distance passengers planning to travel to their hometowns during the festive season.
With the strike being called off and the sudden declaration of a holiday to schools and colleges by the government. Koyambedu, Anna Nagar, Poonamallee, Saidapet and Tambaram bus depots were busy with outstation passengers thronging to reach their native towns.
Special reservation counters, supposed to be open on Wednesday, were finally inaugurated on Friday and additional services have started ferrying people leaving the city for the festival.
A few people rued that the department has not given information about the opening of counters. “For two days, they remained shut and the MTC has not made any announcement about the re-opening of the counters. By the time the information had reached us, there were serpentine queues outside the counters,” said one of the commuters at Koyambedu bus terminus. Though the services resumed, a few drivers could not return to the duty due to poor maintenance of the buses.
“As the buses did not function for a week, the buses which are already in a bad shape, gave up when we tried to start. At least 10 buses could not be operated in each depot,” said a driver on condition of anonymity.
The strike was declared after the negotiations with the staff unions with state transport department demanding wage revision among other things, failed. The striking employees of state transport have been insisting for a pay scale revision to Rs 30,000. However, the authorities have agreed in principle to pay only Rs 24,400, which the employees feel is a great injustice for the workers who deal with severe traffic and stress on a daily basis.
The dues to be paid to the transport employees, including retirement and provident fund dues stand at Rs 7,543 crore. It was temporarily called off on Thursday after the High court appointed an arbitrator to settle their wage dispute with the government.