It seems that two months after Shiv Sena (SS) Chief Balasaheb Thackeray breathed his last, the Sena’s taxi union is keen to breathe life into its party’s USP: fear factor.
The Sena-affiliated body Meru Chalak Sena has threatened to go off the roads, and not allow drivers to ply vehicles from today evening if its demands are not met. A high-level meeting between the Sena-led union and fleet cab operator Meru Cabs is scheduled for today, and if an agreement is not reached, union drivers will take to the roads.
“We had planned to call a strike today, but it will now be decided after our meeting with the Meru administration,” said Vinayak Raut, president, Meru Chalak Sena. A decision to this effect will be taken after 6 pm. Senior Meru officials said that the union had threatened drivers saying that they would harm them, their vehicles and families too if they ply their vehicles if the strike is called.
Siddhartha Pahwa, CEO, Meru Cabs, said, “We are not affiliated with any political party or union, and thus the declared strike by this politically backed union is not recognised by the company, and is illegal. All the demands placed before the company are frivolous, without even a single genuine demand or claim. We know for a fact that 95 per cent of our drivers are not in favour of the strike as we have regular interactions with them and they are satisfied working with us.”
The Union has demanded that the firm roll back the recent hike of Rs 100 charged as subscription amount. A subscription amount is the money that a driver is required to pay to the operator on a daily basis. They also want Meru to do away with the Rs 500 penalty clause as a punishment for misconduct.
Meanwhile, Meru Cabs claim that the daily income of drivers has gone up by Rs 400 after the recent fare hike. The administration claims to have approached the police for protection to their office premises, drivers and vehicles. “In case of any violence, the passengers can telephone our call centre, and a replacement cab would be sent. Strict action will be taken against persons trying to disrupt services,” said Pahwa. The call centre will function as usual without any disruptions, and bookings are being taken for today.
The radio taxi operator had seen three major strikes between September 2011 and March 2012, called by Nitesh Rane’s Swabhimaan Sanghatana, resulting in loss of business for over 30 days. Giving the current stir a political twist, Nitesh Rane tweeted yesterday that a competitor, to ensure Meru shuts down its Mumbai operations, has given ‘supari’ to Meru Chalak Sena.
Number of fleet cabs in the city
>> Meru Cabs: 2090
>> Tab Cabs: 1600
>> Easy Cabs: 500
>> Mega Cabs: 238