There are various ways to reach our destination: personal vehicles, metros, autos, rickshaws, and cabs. While those who don’t prefer to use metro as a medium of commute, often resort to cabs sourced by Ola and Uber, amongst other taxi-providing companies. Naturally, people reliant on these cabs would be presented with a predicament when the drivers of these organisation go on a strike to fight for their rights and perks. The question that needs to be asked relate to the when, the why, the where, and the how.
The strike began in the second week of February, with the drivers congregating at Jantar Mantar for a hunger strike to demand a feasible solution from the app-based cab aggregators and the government. Their primary grouse is with the reduced wages they receive as opposed to the money they previously earned. The strike aims to demand more money out of the fares, eliminate the Rs.500 clause for cancelling rides, accident insurance, relaxation in working hours, reduction in the per kilometre rate (Rs. 6) to the community. There had also been reports of minor violence being used by protestors against drivers who did not join the strike, by throwing eggs on cars and abruptly stopping them, actions which have been condemned by the unions. The scarce cabs found on the streets were coupled with high fares, thus further discouraging the populace to opt for booking. On February 13th, the Delhi High Court issued an order prohibiting goons against violence and vandalism.
Over a period of eighteen days, in between which the companies announced the return of services in full strength, the strike originally called by four unions, now seems to be fizzling out as only one unions continues to protest. The loss in steam can be attributed to the lack of reaction and compliance by the companies, and the realities of survival have forced a major chunk of workers to abandon the strike and resume operation. The stalemate which presented itself highlighted the overworked and underpaid sufferings of the drivers, but led only to a marginal victory. The companies have apparently agreed to two conditions, owing to the importance of driver, that the Rs. 500 penalty would not be imposed and the per kilometre fare would increase, so as to ensure increased wages to the drivers. The drivers have been given a written commitment which authenticates their demands. While the demands relating to incentives did not positively materialise, the agitation and protests did lead to relief, regardless of its degree. As the strike is on the verge of culmination, the companies should strengthen the services offered to the drivers so as to ensure that similar protests are not reiterated.
Image Credits: Hindustan Times