Much to the relief of Mumbaikars, the call for Bharat bandh failed miserably due to the Ganpati fervour, but the city can expect some other, new kind of disruption from the disappointed taxi and auto rickshaw unions post the festival.
The unions are now planning other innovative forms of agitation from October 1, mainly to protest against the delay in implementing PMA Hakim Committee’s report on fares. The unions are deep in thought, as action could be initiated against them under the Essential Services and Maintenance (ESMA) Act if they go on strike.
Taxi unions in Mumbai are planning to keep their vehicles off the roads any day from October 1 if the government fails to implement the Hakim Committee recommendations. They also had an internal meeting to explore ways of protest, without attracting action under the ESMA Act.
Sources in one of the taxi unions said that they will simply ask all drivers to park their vehicles on the roads, at junctions or near their homes, and not ply.
“We will be doing this through word of mouth, rather than distributing pamphlets or sending any official letter. This way, the government cannot take action against us, when no agitation has officially been declared,” said the source.
They claim that no date or timing has been decided yet and the plan is to launch a surprise strike. The union members added that their respective drivers will be informed about plans through word of mouth when they visit union offices.
“Even if 80 per cent of the drivers adhere to this, then it will be a success,” said a taxi union leader.
A L Quadros, general secretary of Mumbai Taximen’s Union said that everything would depend on how the government handles the matter at hand. “We are hoping that the government implements the Hakim Committee recommendations by the end of this month,” he said.
Auto men to follow
The auto rickshaw unions are planning on the same lines and have been vocal about their agitation over implementation of the Hakim Committee’s recommendations. Their recent show of protest came in the form of a ‘dharna’ instead of an official strike.
“Our dharna is simply voluntary. Presently, we are waiting for the government to take a decision,” said Shashank Rao, assistant general secretary, Mumbai Auto Rickshawmen’s Union. Even the auto unions are planning to take steps if there is no fare revision. Earlier this month, the union took out two dharnas over the delay in implementing the Hakim Committee report. However, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar intervened and asked all taxi and auto rickshaw unions to avoid going on such protests and promised that a decision would be taken shortly.