State makes last-ditch effort to avert strike
Transport commissioner will meet leaders of taxi and auto unions on Sunday to address their concerns about app-cabs and persuade them not to go on strike from Mondaymumbai Updated: Aug 28, 2016 00:13 IST
Transport commissioner Pravin Gedam called an urgent meeting of the leaders of taxi and auto rickshaw unions at noon on Sunday to avert a proposed strike against app-based taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber from Monday.
Two relatively new unions, Jai Bhagavan Mahasangh and Swabhiman Taxi and Rickshaw Sanghatana, have threatened an indefinite taxi strike from Monday. On Wednesday, Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union also warned of an agitation. The BEST Kamgar Sena, a Shiv Sena-affiliated union of BEST employees, has also threatened to participate in the strike.
Though the majority of taxi and auto rickshaw unions said they won’t participate in the proposed strike, the two agitating unions are firm on their decision. BEST Kamagar Sena, however, is less likely to go on strike as it has neither given notice nor made any preparations.
Mumbai has around 40,000 black-and-yellow cabs and around one lakh auto rickshaws. Fed up of being turned down by taxi and auto drivers and the poor condition of their vehicles, several Mumbaikars have switched to services such as Ola and Uber, which began operations in Mumbai in mid-2014 and now account for more than 25,000 taxis in the city.
App-based cabs offer comfortable, air-conditioned rides for around the same price as black-and-yellows, thus hampering the business of traditional taxis and auto rickshaws.
The state government has prepared the City Taxi Scheme 2015 to regulating app-based taxis, but its approval has been delayed. Angered by this, some taxi and auto unions gave called for a strike, while others have gone to court.
“We have filed a petition in the high court, which is expected come up for hearing next week,” said A L Quadros, a veteran taxi union leader.
Though the Shiv Sena-affiliated taxi union Mumbai Taxi Chalak Malak Sena and few others have said their taxis will ply even if other unions go on strike, Jai Bhagavan and Swabhiman unions are firm on the strike. The Swabhiman union will also boycott Sunday’s meeting with the transport commissioner.
“At an earlier meeting, the transport commissioner said the decision is not in his hands and will be taken by the government. If he cannot take decision, what the use in participating in the meeting?” said KK Tiwari, leader of Swabhiman.
Source said the state government will allow private buses to ferry passengers if the unions go ahead with the strike. It will also direct BEST and MSRTC to deploy extra buses to minimise inconvenience to commuters.
Meanwhile, the transport commissioner’s office also issued a press release stating that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority has only relaxed permit conditions to allow free entry into MMR for private buses and that the move will not affect BEST buses. However, Sunil Ganacharya, leader of BEST Kamgar Sena, said the union will announce its decision on Sunday.