Taxi strike in Kolkata today, transport strike tomorrow

The ongoing impasse between the West Bengal Government and the Leftist trade unions seems to continue as trade unions here on Wednesday called for an indefinite taxi strike on Thursday and a transport strike on Friday. Trade unions have demanded a reply from the Bengal government within 72 hours.

Addressing journalists, Anadi Sahu of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said about 50,000 taxi drivers of the city and surrounding areas would be staying off roads to protest against the State government’s alleged apathetic attitude towards them.

“We have been appealing to the State government for the past one-and-a-half months to hold for discussions with us. While we don’t support taxi drivers refusing passengers, we object to the arbitrary fines in the name of refusal penalties. The fine for refusal suddenly shot up to Rs. 3,000 from Rs. 100,” Mr. Sahu said.

Although trade unions initially started their protests alleging police atrocities on taxi drivers, their focus shifted to hiking taxi fares, soon after the State government agreed to hike bus fares by Re. 1 last month. The strikes called on Thursday and Friday will demand revision of taxi meters.

“Taxi fares were last revised in 2012. Fuel prices increased 12 times ever since then. Taxi fares, however, have remained the same. Drivers pay out of their pockets for the fuel. How will they earn their living if fares are not at par with fuel prices?” Mr. Sahu questioned.

All throughout August, numerous protest rallies were held in the city in support of taxi drivers which transformed into taxi strikes. As many as 22 drivers were arrested on August 7 when the first such rally was taken out by the trade unions for going into a rampage and vandalising private buses and other taxis. Although later all 22 were released on bail, trade unions said cases against the arrested drivers should be withdrawn and alleged that the ruling All India Trinamool Congress-led taxi unions were responsible for the rampage.

“We have written seven letters to the State Transport Department so far but have not yet received any reply yet. About 70,000 oil tankers have assured us of their support for the strike tomorrow [Thursday],” secretary of the All India Trade Unions Congress Nawal Kishor Shrivastav said.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 4:22:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/taxi-strike-in-kolkata/article6422119.ece

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