Tamil Nadu bus strike ends after 9 days, normalcy restored

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Earlier, when the matter came up in the High Court, it appointed a retired judge E Padmanabhan as arbitrator to settle the wage dispute.

Bus services returned to normal in Tamil Nadu Friday after transport workers withdrew their eight- day old strike over wage related issues.

Tamil Nadu has over 22,000 buses with a workforce of about 143,000 employees.

Apart from wages, the workers also cited other demands, such as pending dues for serving and retired personnel.

The Chief Minister recalled that Thyagi Sankaralinganar had made an appeal to the then Congress government for renaming Madras State as Tamil Nadu in 1956. Thousands of state transport workers represented by various unions have gone on strike demanding higher pay.

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The AIADMK backed union, besides some others, had not participated in the protests. "This will be provided before Pongal festival", he said.

Both the LPF and CITU categorically informed a special bench of the Madras HC headed by Justice S Manikumar on Wednesday that there was no scope to withdraw the strike unless the government agreed to suspend the settlement that was signed and resumed negotiations. The President of the Employee's Union Periasamy blames the government for not paying attention to the continuing problems of the staff. "If the state is not bothered about public interest, we too are not bothered", counsels for the unions told the court.

Approaching the busy Pongal festive period, the number of people travelling by bus increases significantly.

Describing the stir as being for the sake of the workers as also for the common people of the state, the unions have said they will intensify the stir. More than 1 lakh people of the state transport department are on strike and this has crippled the main transportation medium for the state and the city. The unions had called for a 2.57 percent hike, to which the government offered only 2.44 percent, leading to a stalemate.