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Commuters stranded across TN as bus strike enters 5th day

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Dhinakaran-PTI

At a time when Tamil Nadu has been crippled by the bus strike for almost a week over a wage hike, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami has introduced a bill to increase the salary of MLAs in the state Assembly.

The monthly salary and other allowances will be increased once the bill is passed.

Leader of Opposition and DMK's working President MK Stalin raised objections when the Bill was being introduced, stating, "We are strongly opposing the draft which provides Salary hike for MLAs".

January 09: Hundreds of commuters are struggling to reach places in Tamil Nadu as the indefinite strike called by transport unions, demanding a pay hike among other things, entered the sixth day on Tuesday.

Opposing the bill, Dhinakaran asked the Tamil Nadu government how they could double the salary of MLAs when they were unwilling to pay striking bus drivers.

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While over 17 trade unions, including the CITU and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-backed Labour Progressive Federation (LPF), are taking part in the protest, the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)-backed Anna Thozhirsanga Peravai (ATP) also joined the agitation on Tuesday in Dindigul district.

Tamil Nadu has over 22,000 buses with a workforce of about 143,000 employees and over 10 rounds of talks have been held between the trade unions and government representatives, including transport minister M.R. Vijayabhaskar.

The strike, following the failure of talks on wage revision and clearance of pending dues with Vijayabaskar, was declared on Thursday.

"Despite severe cash crunch, we are ready to dispense salary increase of 2.44%. I appeal to workers...they should return to work", he said. He said talks were held after consultations with him and the wage increase was announced by Transport Minister M R Vijayabaskar on his advice.

On Monday, the Madras high court directed the state government not to terminate any of the striking employees without its permission. Seated opposite the treasury benches, Dhinakaran demanded that the government immediately placate the workers to end the strike as it was causing great hardship to the common people all over the state.

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