The Madras High Court today stuck to its stand that the on-going by State –run transport corporation employees was illegal, but at the same time it directed the Government to clear their statutory dues.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Abdul Quddhose rejected the unions’ plea to vacate the interim injunction granted last Friday, restraining the employees from continuing with the strike.
While asking the government to take departmental action against those who refused to return to work, the judges said no one should be sacked without leave of this court.
After hearing representation made on behalf of the striking workers, the bench said genuine grievances of the employees should be redressed and all their statutory dues should be settled.
The bench, which has declared the strike as illegal , said it affected, not judges, Ministers or top officials, but students and daily wagers.
The judges transferred a batch of public interest litigation petitions filed against the strike to another bench headed by Justice S. Manikumar which is going into the issue of dues of serving and retired employees.
The striking unions have been saying that the strike is not so much for a wage revision as for settlement of pension and other arrears running to over Rs 7,000 crore pending for years which the Government is refusing to settle despite several court orders.
Transport Minister M R Vijayabhaskar has said it was his governments which paid over Rs 1,200 crore this year to partly clear arrears pending for over 15 years. Striking unions, however, say they waited long enough.
The Minister has said he has already agreed to a pay raise of 2 .44 per cent against 2.57 per cent demanded by the striking employees. He has repeatedly been appealing to the employees to return to work, saying this is the highest hike in recent years.
The strike continued for the fifth day and the Government managed to restore 45 per cent of the services across the State with the help of AIADMK union members, retired bus drivers and conductors and temporary hands. Near normal service was reported only from Karur, the home district of the Minister.