Will Mumbai, rest of Maharashtra face autorickshaw strike from Tuesday?
Unions want state to fulfil demands today; government says it hasn’t been approached, no meet plannedUpdated: Jul 07, 2019 23:13 IST
Lakhs of autorickshaws in Mumbai and other parts of the state have threatened to go off roads from Tuesday, if the state doesn’t meet their demands. The unions want fare hike, welfare board for drivers and district-level flying squads against illegal use of private vehicles for public transportation, among others.
Maharashtra has 9.86 lakh auto rickshaws, including 2.12 lakh in Mumbai. Autorickshaws are one of the main modes of transport in suburban Mumbai, after trains and BEST buses. At a time when commuters are grappling with travel chaos owing to heavy rain, potholes, disrupted train and bus services, the strike, if it happens, will worsen the situation. The only relief, however, is black-and-yellow taxi unions will not participate in it.
The action committee of unions representing auto drivers — Autorickshaw Chalak Malak Sanghatana Sanyuckta Kruti Samiti (ACMSSKS) – threatened to go ahead with their plan if their talks with the state fail on Monday. Shashank Rao, president of ACMSSKS blamed transport minister Diwakar Raote and his department for the strike, alleging they ignored their demands made after the statewide convention of ACMSSKS in Mumbai on June 9. “We have sent our demands to the transport department several times, but neither did they take cognisance, nor did they make any attempt to negotiate,” said Rao.
Some prominent autorickshaw unions from Mumbai and neighbouring areas have supported the call for strike, claiming the government is yet to take a decision on the four-member Khatua panel’s report that recommended welfare schemes for auto drivers.
“The panel submitted its report to the government in October 2017, but even after two years, the government didn’t take any decision on its recommendations. Despite the hefty rise in fuel price and cost of living since 2015, auto drivers continue to suffer,” said KK Tiwari, leader of Swabhiman Mumbai Taxi and Rickshaws Union.
Raote said he hasn’t received any communication from the auto unions. “I have not received any representation from any of the unions. If autorickshaws go on strike, people have the option of BEST and MSRTC buses,” he said.
Some unions have decided not to participate in the stir. Rickshaw Kranti Sanyukta Kruti Samiti (RKSKS), another action committee of auto unions, claimed they do not want trouble commuters during the monsoon. DM Gosavi, leader of RKSKS, said they have sought police protection for auto drivers, who will step out despite the strike call.