State-owned buses were badly damaged in the ongoing transport strike spread across Tamil Nadu. In total, 55 buses were burnt by those protesting against the government. In Chennai alone, at least 18 buses went up in flames, according to Deccan Chronicle.

On Monday, life in parts of Chennai was affected by the strike. Protesters pelted stones at buses in Anna Nagar, Otteri, Chromepet, MMDA, Washermenpet and Thirumangalam. The police detained 78 miscreants but they were released a few hours later, in the evening.

The state government took precautionary steps to avoid further damage. Around 90,000 personnel and 15,000 members of the police force were deployed in public places such as bus depots, terminals and railway stations, Deccan Chronicle reported.

Members belonging to Tamil Nadu State Transport went on a statewide protest against the government on May 15. Various trade unions demanded that the government pay the workers’ dues in provident fund (PF), employee state insurance (ESI) and employees provident fund (EPF). The government is yet to pay Rs 7 crore in benefits to its employees.

As many as 1.5 lakh workers are on strike and transport services in Tamil Nadu have been badly affected. Although private buses have been plying in the cities, fares are much higher and there’s much confusion about the availability of bus service. While protesters claimed that the bus service has come to a standstill, a trade union affiliated to AIADMK, ATP, claimed that buses will function. India Today reported.

Negotiations were held between officials of the Transport Department, the Labour Department and representatives of unions but the talks failed. So far, the transport department has asked schools to operate their buses and has roped in retired drivers to facilitate commutes via mini and private buses.