The strike by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation workers has brought to the fore some of the hardships faced by its retired employees. One of the reasons for the strike prolonging is that the Edappadi K Palaniswami Government has not been able to address the grievance of retired transport department workers.
A transport employee’s letter doing rounds on Whatsapp groups highlights the problem of the retired staff. Swarajya checked and found that the reality is far more grievous that what this person has said. Here is rough translation of the letter:
“Dear Tamil Nadu Transport Minister, Mr Vijay Bhaskar:
I had worked in the transport department for 35 years and retired two years ago. This engine worked many days but today, this body has become tired. One day while on duty I suffered chest pain. I bore the acute pain, brought my vehicle under control and halted it on a roadside considering the fact that many lives were seated trusting my ability. Though I was affected physically, I performed my duty in a happy frame of mind. For this, I only expected my provident fund (PF), that was deducted from my salary every month and earn leave reimbursements. It is two years since I have retired but I have not been able to get a single paisa from you. I had bet on this amount to fix an alliance for my daughter. Then only I knew that in the last six years, you have not paid any transport employee the PF dues. Many are suffering to get the PF payments from you. Every month, you deducted a specific amount to pay me pension. Even that you are paying in two installments every month. That was stopped for some time before retired employees went to the court to the pension. Earlier, I was concerned on performing my daughter’s marriage. Now, I am having to think of my next meal. We were not in the job of sitting on a chair and signing files. We had toiled hard and couldn’t even be with our children on festivals. My question to you is what happened to the money that you deducted from our salaries? Should our families suffer because of your inefficiency?
Another retired transport employee said that employees outside Chennai like those in cities like Madurai, Trichy and Coimbatore besides those in the rural areas are the worst sufferers. A couple of employees have even died without getting their legal dues. In May 2017, the Tamil Nadu government had assured the unions and workers that it would be clearing their dues soon. Unfortunately, the assurances have not been kept, forcing the workers to resort to strike.