"I request the employees and trade unions who are involved in this unnecessary strike to realise the factual situation and get back to work as per the court directive", the transport minister said after the court's order.
Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar appealed to the unions to return to work.
Drivers and conductors of various state transport corporations are demanding wage hike among other things.
In a statement to media on Friday, Vijaybhaskar said 13th wage revision for transport employees was held on January 4.
The unions, including DMK-affiliated LPF and CITU, rejected the state government's ultimatum to return to work or face "consequences" and also claimed they had not received the court order.
As the strike entered the second day on Friday crippling operation of the eight transport corporation running about 21,000 buses, the first bench of the High Court headed by Chief Justice Indira Banerjee ordered the workers to resume work or face the effect including termination and contempt of court.
'Those who don't come to work and cause hardship to the public must face the consequences, ' the court told the drivers. "The department will incur an additional expenditure of Rs 1000 crore per annum", he said, urging the unions to call off their strike. Chief Justice Indira Banerjee had said that workers could not go on such sudden strikes without any prior intimation.
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The Madras High Court on Friday directed the striking unions to withdraw the strike immediately or face action.
"CITU leader A Sounderrajan, who participated in Thursday's talks with the government, said that "not even 10 per cent" of buses were being operated across Tamil Nadu".
The striking unions want the "factor" for wage revision to be fixed at 2.57 times while government insisted it be 2.44.
Employees affiliated to ruling AIADMK-backed Anna Thozhirsanga Peravai were plying buses, but reports reaching here said a large number of vehicles were off the road in different parts of the state like Chennai, Villupuram, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Madurai among others.
"This is what you get when you just bring anyone to drive a bus, which is a specialised job", said C. Muthukumaran, a driver working with the PTC in Chennai, on the incident. Besides, private buses were also roped in to meet the situation at several places.
A majority of the people continued to rely on trains, autorickshaws and private buses for their daily commute.