Many city commuters are likely to face difficulties getting to their destinations for the first couple of days in July, as at least 35,000 cabs are expected to go off the roads for 48 hours to protest against their alleged exploitation by cab aggregators and harassment by police.
The strike has been called jointly by the West Bengal Online Cab Operators’ Guild (WBOCOG) and an organisation of luxury taxis rendering services to government offices in the state.
The 48-hour strike will include a cease work by drivers of around 30,000 online app cabs working for the two private aggregating giants and 17,000 luxury taxis working for government offices and private use.
The strike, according to Indranil Banerjee of WBOCOG, comes as a protest against the alleged passive approach of the aggregating companies who despite repeated deputations, letters and agitations have not provided any solution to the issues of the member drivers. “We have repeatedly requested to increase our drivers’ share of income and to revive their IDs that have been blocked without any proper justification,” said Indranil. “We also wrote a letter to them last week making an appeal to respond to our demands within seven days. However, even after the deadline was crossed, there is absolutely no response from the aggregators, particularly, one of them,” he added.
Voicing similar assertions, another member of the luxury taxi association said, “There are around 9500 luxury taxis rendering services at various government organisations across the state. The last time their fare was increased ~ by ten rupees ~ was in the year 2008 under the former government. Over the past 11 years, despite writing as many as 25 letters to the state authorities, there has been no change in our income. A number of cases and penalties imposed by police add to the woes of the drivers. While the cost of living in these years has shot up manifold, the income of these member drivers has remained the same, making it impossible for them to run their families.”
The two organisations have decided to organise a signature collection campaign tomorrow in support of their member drivers. On 30 June, a cab rally will also be held as a pre-cursor to the strike from 1 July. Despite repeated attempts, the management of one of the aggregating companies against which the member drivers have expressed the maximum grievances, were unavailable to comment.