Hyderabad: On November 26, trucks, buses, autos, taxis and other vehicles will remain off the roads across the country owing to the nationwide strike call given by the transport workers. The All India Coordination Committee of Road Transport Workers Organisations (AICCORTWO) has given the call for the strike coinciding with the one day general strike call given by the central trade unions.
On Friday, November 6, the Coordination Committee held a virtual meeting reviewing the situation of the transport industry and workers. In a press release, AICCORTWO stated that the abnormal hike of diesel prices, insurance premium rates, toll charges, road tax and other charges have ruined the transport industry.
“The workers working in this sector are working round the clock even in the strict lockdown period knowingly that they will be affected by COVID-19. In spite of this risky and hard work, the transport workers who died due to COVID-19 are not covered under the Insurance scheme announced by the Prime Minister for the COVID-19 warriors. The unorganised transport workers are not covered under any labour laws. They do not have any social security,” said the committee.
The committee consists of Indian National Transport Workers Federation (INTUC), National Federation of Indian Road Transport Workers (NFIRTW), All India Road Transport Workers’ Federation (AIRTWF) affiliated to Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF), Trade Union Council of India, (AICCTU), Transport Mazdoor Union (TMU-TS), Tamilnadu Government Transport Staff Federation and BEST Workers Union.
A member of AICCORTWO, R Lakshmaiah said, “Transport industry was in massive crisis even before the pandemic hit, but COVID-19 added fuel to the crisis.” Talking about the plight of lorry or truck drivers, he said that a large number of trucks were seized by the finance companies as their owner-drivers were defaulting on their loan payments owing to financial distress.
Not only that, the condition of auto and taxi drivers is not any better. “After Uber, Ola companies entered the industry, auto drivers have lost their revenue by nearly 50%. Among taxi drivers, Uber and Ola tricked them to attach their vehicles promising big incomes. Eventually, the companies began cutting down incentives to the drivers which triggered numerous protests across Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and other cities,” said Lakshmaiah.
Also read: Transport Workers Protest Across Country Demanding to Save Road Transport Sector
The umbrella committee have appealed to all the transport workers and all other stakeholders to participate in the strike and demonstrate the strength and unity of the transport workers.
“The success of the strike would send a signal to the government that the transport workers will not keep silent when the entire people of this country are thrown into distress,” it stated.
Earlier on August 5, transport workers across states held a national protest day raising demands such as withdrawal of enhanced excise duty on diesel and petrol and rollback of increased prices, withdrawal of Motor Vehicle (amendment) Act 2019 and budgetary support to state road transport undertakings (STUs) among others.
The central government’s motive behind the Motor Vehicle (amendment) Act 2019 is to hand over the entire transport industry to big corporate giants, Laskhmaiah told NewsClick, adding that the STUs are on the verge of collapse due to lack of support from the governments.