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Chaos as Tamil Nadu bus strike enters eighth day

IANS | Chennai |

There was mounting anger among the general public as an indefinite strike by workers in state-owned bus services demanding higher wages entered the eighth day in Tamil Nadu.

With only days left for the Pongal festival, there was no indication when the work stoppage would end even after a Rs 750 crore package was announced by the government on Wednesday in a bid to end the work stoppage.

On Thursday, members of central trade unions began an indefinite fast at Pallavan House here in support of the striking bus crew.

A union leader demanded early talks with the government. He said if their demands were met, they would resume work immediately.

The unions requested the Madras High Court to cancel a January 4 government order in favour of Anna Workers’ Union and asked the judge to tell the authorities to start discussions soon with the strikers.

The DMK-backed Labour Progressive Federation said a retired judge must be named to start the talks between the strikers and the government.

The continuing bus strike, in a state where state-run buses ferry hundreds of thousands daily, has forced more and more people to take to local trains, making them over-crowded.

This is the time when tens of thousands leave major cities for their hometowns and villages to celebrate Pongal with their families.

Officials said the government was planning to rope in additional drivers and conductors to resume the stalled buses.