Payday pangs in Mumbai: Will the drivers get paid today?

Transport Unions say that most of the salaries of their workforce is paid in cash, so they need to be able to withdraw more the Rs 50K limit to make good on payday

Truck unions say that 70 per cent of their salaries are paid in cash. File pic
Truck unions say that 70 per cent of their salaries are paid in cash. File pic

This will be the first payday since the Modi government delivered the knockout demonetisation move that has crippled households and businesses. Sure, a lot of salaries are credited directly into bank accounts, but the real trouble will be faced by the unorganised sector: top of the pile being the transport sector that mainly deals in cash to pay salaries.

These include the bus operators — namely the private ones ferrying people from companies, to picnics, inter-city tours and other purpose — along with trucks, tempos and multi-axle vehicles that transport goods, commodities and perishable items. The unions, associations and representatives of all the sector have, since the demonetisation, been demanding that their minimum withdrawal be upped from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh per week, adding that it is even more imperative now to pay salaries.

Urgent need for cash
“At least 80 per cent of our staff — mostly drivers — needs to be paid in cash. Under the current circumstances, there are a lot of issues that could lead to chaos. Already 70 per cent of trucks and tempos are off-road,” said Bal Malkit Singh, owner of Bal Roadlines and member, Maharashtra Tank Lorry Owner’s Association.

The truckers claim that their business mainly deals in cash, not just for the salaries to drivers and cleaners, but also while paying off octroi, toll and other expenses.

Business hit
The private bus owners have similar grievances about salary day. “Due to a drop in demand since the demonetisation, almost 40 per cent of buses are off road. Meanwhile, at least 50 per cent of the operators pay cash to their drivers, which will be seriously affected if more cash is not made available on payday,” said Harsh Kotak, Maharashtra Bus Operators Association.

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