Auto union leaders, who are not backing Sharad Rao in the three-day strike from August 22 to 24, have said that given there is no violence in the protest at least 60 per cent of the city’s autorickshaws would be on the roads and would ply at least short distances. This should provide some relief to those preparing for festivals due to start soon.
On Sunday, several smaller unions including those having affiliations with different political parties had a joint meeting to decide the future course of action on the call for strike by Rao.
“We have told our drivers to ply at least short distances,” said Thampy Kurien, union leader, Mumbai Rickshawmen’s Union.
If this happens residents should not have a problem reaching their local railway stations.
Sources said the frequency with which rickshaws function on the three days would depend on whether there is any violence by drivers who are striking.
“We have told our drivers that we would try to provide help and protection wherever possible. Such strikes are unnecessarily affecting the image of auto drivers. We will ask the authorities to file an FIR against Sharad Rao in case of any violence or attacks,” said KK Tiwari, union leader (auto-taxi wing), Swabhiman Sanghatana.
Of the over one-lakh rickshaws that ply on both eastern and western suburbs, union leaders claim that around 60 per cent would be on the streets during the three-day protest. These leaders also said that complaints have been pouring in from drivers who say they are being threatened to join the strike.
These union leaders have planned to meet higher-ups in the state functionary.
“We are trying to meet the Chief Minister. However, we have for sure scheduled meetings with officials from the transport department and Mumbai police,” said Rajendra Desai, Maharashtra Rickshaw Chalak Sena.
With festivals coming up in the next few days, auto drivers have complained that the strike would affect their income. They also say that Rao’s demand for a hike to Rs 25 for the first 2 km would also reduce demand for rickshaws on road.