Claiming that board of directors observed discrimination while allotting shares that benefit the drivers, members of the government authorised Pune-Mumbai-Pune Taxi Association refused to operate taxi services yesterday as a mark of protest. They said services would remain shut today as well and will resume once they meet officials from the state’s co-operative department later.
The association is the oldest government authorised organisation that has been allotting shares that benefits drivers and its members. But the drivers claimed that for the last two years, instead of allotting shares to them, the association directors allotted shares to their relatives.
“Shareholders have the right of voting for selecting Board of Directors (BOD) and claim other benefits. Allocation of shares for more than 90 drivers is pending for the last two years. About 120 people, who are not allied to the association, became shareholders in this period. All the drivers are struggling to avail the basic facilities. Several new drivers are waiting their membership. BOD is misusing its powers and exploiting the drivers,” said Prakash Joshi, a member of the association.
Established in 1973, to day the association has 350 members who drive 150 taxies on the Pune-Mumbai route. Nine directors, who are elected by the members every five years, head the association.
Another driver Umesh Pardeshi said, “Association collects Rs 150 per trip as service tax. Whereas the Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai taxi association charges just Rs 10 per trip. There is no transparency in money matters. They are collecting thousands of rupees in the name of service tax, but we are still struggling to avail the most basic of the facilities.”
The drivers had complained in written to the co-operative department, demanding cancellation of shares issued in the last two years and dismissal of the BOD.
The other side
Sandeep Nalawade, one of the directors, said, “All the allegations levelled by the drivers are baseless. First, they should understand that the association is a consumer co-operative society and not a union. Being so, anyone can become a member and buy shares. We are following all the norms and rules. Pending shares will be issued at the earliest and the process is underway. There is complete transparency; we are charging Rs 150 as service tax because we have to give Rs 1.6 lakh to the PMC for using the booth at station area. We are ready to discuss the issue with the drivers.”