Kolkata taxi strike receives lukewarm response
The first day of a two-day taxi strike called by an affiliate of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) on Tuesday received a lukewarm response as other associations withdrew support.
West Bengal Taxi Workers Federation (WBTWF) had decided to go on strike on August 6 and 7 to protest against the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, demanding fare hikes among other things.
No major disruption or any public harassment was witnessed at key locations on the first day.
Taxi owners associations like Bengal Taxi Association (BTA), Calcutta Taxi Association (CTA) and Progressive Taxi Union had joined the protest but they withdrew their support later.
"We met the officials of the transport department on Monday. They assured that they will consider increasing the taxi fares after a thorough discussion. So we deferred our plans to join the strike," Suman Guha, a member of BTA said.
He said the members had also raised other demands like including metered taxis in an application-based booking system like that of other private players, making proper taxi stands and so on.
Debanshu Nandy, state secretary of WBTWF said that nearly 60 per cent of taxis are off-road in Kolkata and adjoining districts like Howrah and North and South 24 Parganas.
Guha said that had all the taxi associations jointly gone on strike, nearly 25,000 taxis would have gone off-road.
"We are carrying on the strike for the sake of the workers. We want the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill to be scrapped immediately, the authorities should contain the prices of petrol and diesel, prevent police atrocities against drivers and permit the yellow taxis to ply across the entire state," Nandy said.
Recently, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in the Lok Sabha. The bill seeks to check corruption, improve road safety and improve technology for traffic regulation.
The workers' federation is also protesting against a driver being beaten to death by a passenger recently. They are seeking compensation and proper support for his family, Nandy added. IANS