Too much revelry at night, the morning hangover and the craving for just one last swig will now cut into the earnings of the autorickshaw drivers in the self-imposed restrain measure at Thiruvankulam.

A breathalyser has been handed out free to the Thiruvankulam Taxi-auto Union (CITU) to carry on with evolving a new work culture.

The machine will now handle the daily checking in the morning for alcohol consumption. If it rings, the driver loses out on a day’s work. “The machine only indicates the presence of alcohol content and not the percentage,” said Biju Paul, secretary of the Union.

“We had been evolving this work culture without any machine for about 8-10 years,” says the president of the Union Sajan V.K, who had been at the stand for about 17 years now. Earlier, the driver was barred from taking up work for the day if he reeked of alcohol or if he declared that he had a drink, said Mr Sajan.

The exorbitant fine charged for alcohol consumption at Rs. 5,000 and a six-month suspension of licence had necessitated such a step, he said.

“What is seen as a model work culture at this autorickshaw stand could be emulated elsewhere too,” said the members joyously.

It ensures that women can reach out for their services without fear, said Mr. Paul. Setting these standards at work was important and it was a decision that was endorsed by all the 50 members in the Union, he said.

There had been various instances where autorickshaw drivers abused passengers under the influence of alcohol, said Suresh V. K., sub-inspector at the Chottanikkara Janamaithri police station.

The Chottanikkara police station provided the support to the auto drivers by organising an awareness class at a function when Mr. Suresh handed over the breathalyser machine to the Union’s secretary. Any person testing alcohol content in another person’s breath could infringe on a person’s right, said Mr. Suresh. Only the police had the authority. Cooperation and willingness of all the drivers to be part of such an exercise made it easy, he said.

More In: Kochi