It looks like the auto unions’ arm-twisting strategy is working. The two stirs in the past two weeks seem to have prompted the state government to consider their demand for a fare hike.
Even as the transport authorities called the unions for talks, the city’s biggest auto union, Sharad Rao’s Mumbai Auto-rickshawmen’s Union, has threatened to go on indefinite strike. “If our demands are not met, we will go on an indefinite strike from November 9,” said Sharad Rao.
Rao met transport commissioner VN More on Monday with a list of demands that includes fare revision, more share-an-auto routes across the city, revision of formula to arrive at the fare and permission to ply in the island city.
More has asked the union to submit a detailed proposal by October 10 and has invited it for discussion on October 14.
The state, however, seems to be buckling under pressure. “The income of a person can’t remain unchanged. It should grow with the growing demands and expenditure. We will see what the union’s proposal is, discuss it with the other unions and act accordingly,” said More.
The unions’ aggressive stand might also see transport authorities going slow on the drive against tampered meters and fare refusals, as well as its plans to make electronic meters compulsory.
Currently, the auto fare is arrived at on the basis of recommendations made by a state-appointed committee. “The report is meant for taxis. Also, we want the price rise factor to be included in devising the formula so that there’s a fare hike in the first week of January every year,” said Shashank Rao from the Mumbai Auto-rickshaw Men’s Union.
“We have told them that if there is an annual hike, no intermediate hikes will be considered,” More said.
Commenting on the auto drivers assaulting people, Rao said: “We don’t support such practices. We are organising an awareness week from November 21 to sensitise the drivers.”