11 Trade Unions organize a Joint Gate Meeting at Pallavan House, Chennai
- Repeal Motor Vehicles (amendment) Bill 2016
- Raise Transport Workers Wage on par with 7th Pay Commission
- Immediately Pay all dues to Contract Workers
On Wednesday, 24th August 2016, 11 transport workers unions representing workers from all the state owned transport corporations organized a joint explanatory meeting as a preparation for the 2nd September National Strike. Over 1000 workers from Chennai participated in the evening public meeting held outside ‘Pallavan House’, the Head Quarters of Metropolitan Transport Corporation. It was a major show of strength leading upto the national strike, though Anna Trade Union, affiliated to the ruling AIADMK was conspicuous by its absence.
The meeting was presided by P.Natarajan, the General Secretary of Labour Progressive Front (LPF). Leaders from the other major trade unions, CITU, AITUC, INTUC, HMS, TTSF, PTS, MLF, AALF, DWU and DMTSP also spoke at the meeting. While the leaders explained about the various demands that the joint charter is raising, the one demand that they focused on was the repeal of the amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act 1988. The amendment bill is pending in parliament after being introduced on 9th August 2016. Among other things, the amendments propose to remove restrictions on running public transport vehicles and enforce stringent rules on spare parts sales. These were criticized and vehemently opposed. Com. Anjalidass of Marumalachi Labour Front said that this would significantly affect the maintenance workers as it might lead to whole sale outsourcing of maintenance to the private corporations. Com. Velu of Ambedkar Labour Front, said that the workers would greatly suffer if private companies are allowed in the sector without any eligibility requirements and quality commitments.
Tamilnadu Transport Staff Federation released a leaflet that highlighted the wage difference between transport workers and other government workers in Tamilnadu. TTSF claims that since the transport workers were re-categorized from government workers to transport corporation workers, they have suffered a 32% wage differential, and the pensioners have suffered over 89%. Com. Nagarajan of TTSF also emphasized that the workers under contract with the transport corporations have to be immediately provide permanent status. The speakers also demanded that the unpaid wages of contract workers will have to be immediately settled. The issue of maintenance of busses and improving the quality of equipment was also raised as a demand by the workers.
Slogans targeted the central government for its cunning push to change labour laws to benefit large corporations, their work to privatize PSUs and communal violence. They also sharpened their attack on the state government for failing in its promises to transport workers, corruption and tacit support for the NDA government’s anti labour policies. All leaders sought the full support of workers to make the strike a great success and proving to the bureaucrats and the politicians the unity of the working class.
According to Palani of LPF, all unions participating in the strike have given strike notice to the transport corporation. They have also planned a dharna at Monroe Statue, Chennai on Sept 2nd.