App-based cabs announce ‘digital strike’ every Monday

Auto drivers resting during strike demanding fare revision in the Capital in April

Auto drivers resting during strike demanding fare revision in the Capital in April | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

Drivers attached to ride-hailing platforms in the Capital launched their weekly ‘digital strike’ on Monday. Leaders of various drivers’ unions said they will boycott the ride-hailing apps on the first day of every week till their demands for fare revision are met. 

“From now, every Monday, we will gather as many drivers as possible at Jantar Mantar. We will boycott driving for any app-based cab service for one day a week,” Kamaljeet Gill, president of the Sarvodaya Drivers’ Association of Delhi said on Monday.

Sumit Bharadwaj, president, Expert Driver Solutions, another drivers’ union, also announced his support for the weekly protest, saying the drivers had suspended their agitation in April in good faith after being assured by the Delhi government. 

“The Transport Minister met with us on April 19 and within a day a committee was set up to revise the fares. But that committee has clearly not done anything till now, while drivers’ problems are increasing by the day with the price of fuel increasing rapidly,” Bharadwaj said.

The Delhi government’s Transport Department had constituted a 13-member committee on April 20 to recommend fare revisions for auto-rickshaws and taxis after massive protests by the drivers in the Capital. The committee was asked to submit its recommendations within 30 days.

The drivers allege that during this time, while the price of fuel has increased sharply, their per kilometre rate with aggregator companies has reduced, as a result of which their earnings have been hit hard.

Explaining the problems faced by the drivers, Bharadwaj said, “When the price of CNG was ₹42 per kilo, an aggregator that a lot of our drivers were attached to, used to pay us ₹8 per kilometre. When the fuel price increased to ₹70, the aggregator reduced the rate to ₹6 per kilometre.”

He added that with the CNG price now at ₹73, the rates offered to the drivers had further dipped to ₹5.80. “This has forced many drivers to risk their health and work for longer hours,” Bharadwaj said.

Lalit Narayan Jha, 52 says the reduced rates have forced him to work for 17-18 hours to be able to earn enough to pay his taxi instalments and meet basic expenses. 

“As a result of this, my knee has suffered severely. Doctors at three hospitals have said that it needs to be replaced. So, what can I do? I am driving with the bad knee for as long as I can,” says Mr. Jha who has joined the strike.

Another driver who has joined the strike is 38-year-old Mohammad Irfan. “Just yesterday, I drove for 17 hours and made just ₹2,000 through the day. Of this, I had to spend ₹1,550 on just fuel. After accounting for meals, I was left with just only ₹150-200,“ he said.

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Printable version | May 16, 2022 11:49:14 pm |