“Follow working hours for drivers”

K.T. Sangameswaran

In accordance with the Motor Transport Workers Act, High Court tells STC

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed a State Transport Corporation to scrupulously follow the working hours for drivers in accordance with the Motor Transport Workers Act (MTWA).

It directed the undertaking to rearrange the working hours and submit the details within six weeks.

Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar said if the working hours exceeded eight hours a day, drivers were likely to get tired and lack concentration in driving.

The Thanthai Periyar Pokkuvarathu Kazhagha Oozhiyar Sangam had filed an application praying for an injunction restraining the management of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (Villupuram Division-I), Villupuram, from withdrawing the weekly off given to drivers and conductors.

It said a meeting of Managing Directors of State-owned corporations in Tiruchirappalli in May 2003, withdrew the off enjoyed by the crew for decades.

The decision was based on the assumption that drivers and conductors performed less than 48 hours of duty a week when buses were on the move.

The Sangam claimed that the decision was taken without considering the sign-on time taken to collect the log sheet and check the condition of buses and sign-off time during the last trip, when buses are driven to the depot. It had also ignored the half-an-hour allowed to hand over ticket books, invoices, cash, log sheet with report and fill diesel.

It said 48-hour work prescribed was the maximum period in a week and employing workmen less than that had become a condition of their service. It also opposed increase in trips and consequential increase in working hours.

In the counter-affidavit, it was submitted that there was no violation of the MTWA and the corporation was complying with the working hours.

Association’s counsel submitted that the court, in a case relating to another transport corporation, considered a similar issue and held that the MTWA should be scrupulously followed. The transport corporation was directed to fix the working hours of drivers and submit a report about the timings to the court. No status or compliance report was filed. The transport corporations were violating the working hours prescribed under section 13 of MTWA.

The injunction application has been posted for June 10.

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