Chennai: The 8-day ordeal faced by the general public due to bus strike across the state has come to an end with the Madras high court directing the transport corporation employees to resume work immediately.
A division bench comprising Justices S.Manikumar and M.Govindaraj appointed Justice E. Padmanabhan, a retired judge of the Madras high court as arbitrator to adjudicate the difference of 0.13 multiplying factor (wage hike) and the date on which it should be applied.
“In the interest of children, students, workers, patients, office goers, traders, small time vendors, poor and middle class people, who represent the larger section of commuters, we direct the Transport Corporation employees to resume work immediately”, the bench added.
The bench said, “We deem it appropriate to appoint Justice E.Padmanabhan, a retired judge of the Madras high court as arbitrator to adjudicate the difference of 0.13 multiplying factor and the date on which it should be applied”. The bench granted one month time for submission of report by the Arbitrator from the date of issuance of notification.
The bench was passing orders as an interim measure on a batch of petitions relating to bus strike by state transport corporation workers, after hearing elaborate arguments from Senior counsel V.Prakash and advocate NGR Prasad appearing for LPF and CITU respectively, advocates P.Vijendran, C.Krishnakumar and R.Y.George Williams and advocate general Vijay Narayan.
The bench said right from the inception of the case, perceiving the difficulties and hardship faced by children, students, workers, patients, office goers, traders, small time vendors, poor and middle class, it expressed its concern that the settlement of disputes can be done, in the manner known to law, and the warring parties should consider the interest of the above and keep aside the difference, it also indicated the traditional festival Pongal.
“We have also taken note of the fact that nearly 11,000 buses were scheduled to be operated as Special Service buses, during Pongal festival. At one stage, we appealed to the transport corporation employees that a decision, as per their conscience to be taken, no matter what is the dispute to be settled with the employers”, the bench added.
The bench said Thursday, after hearing the counsel for the parties, though five demands have been set out in the memorandum filed by the trade unions, government has come up to agree for three demands subject to the condition that the transport corporation employees, resume work from January 11 evening.
“Though the senior counsel for the unions requested this court to refer, the correctness and validity of the alleged settlement dated January 4, as one of the terms of reference, we are not inclined to accept the said request”, the bench added.
The unions, among other things, had also demanded wages for the strike period and dropping of criminal cases registered against the workers, be referred to the arbitrator for adjudication, in the memo.
However, objecting to the same, Advocate general Vijay Narayan said the other demands cannot be re-adjudicated.
With regard to adjudication by an arbitrator the difference of 0.13 multiplying factor, he has to get instructions from the government.
When the case was taken up at 2.45 p.m, advocate general agreed to accept only one demand to refer the 0.13 multiplying factor to the arbitrator for adjudication. Subsequently, senior counsel V.Prakash did not press the other demands.
Thereafter, the bench passed an elaborate order for more than an hour. The operative portion of the order was read out in the open court.
Railways and CMRL ease woes
The preparatory measures by Southern Railway and CMRL to handle the extra rush of passengers during the festive season have helped the passengers with the prevailing bus strike.
In view of the bus strike, Southern Railway is operating 43 additional special trains daily across Tamil Nadu to ease the traffic on all lines. 30 extra EMU special trains are also being run on suburban lines.
Railway sources say that Chennai division is handling additional passengers owing to bus strike and around 6.2 lakh additional passengers travelled on various lines in the division since the declaration of the strike and have gained additional revenue of 50 lakh to Southern railways.
Around 1.5 lakh additional passengers traveled in Chennai division on Thursday. 44 additional counters and eight ticket checking squads are in place to ensure ticketing travel.Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) has also recorded a large crowd and a record footfall of 34,000 was recorded on Wednesday and the numbers are expected to be the same even on Thursday.
CMRL has extended the metro services up to 11.30 pm from January 11, 2018 to January 13, 2018 and January 16, 2018 to handle the increased footfall due to the bus strike.