Govind Mohite of Maharashtra Rajya Rashtriya Kamgar Sangh said, “We had organised a 12-day strike in October-November last year, and called it off after state transport minister Diwakar Raote organised talks between us and the management. Our drivers were happy with the Diwali incentives, but subsequently we went on a second round of agitation, when our delegation was assured by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis that he would look into our demands and possibly call for a meeting after the state assembly winter session.” It has been over a month and driver partners are disappointed that their demands seem to have been “ignored” by the government, he said.
Some drivers who went on a hunger strike in Ghatkopar to raise some issues against the aggregator firms on Friday night were picked up by police. “We strongly condemn the action. We have decided to raise our voice once again and request the government to intervene and redress our grievances,” said Mohite. He said if the drivers’ issues were not redressed soon, there could be another agitation.
The driver partners are demanding a minimum fare of Rs100-150 due to fuel price hikes in recent months. “The per km fare should be increased from Rs18 to Rs23, as per car model. Instead of the company procuring new vehicles and promoting them, aggregator firms should give business to driver partners who own the cabs,” demanded another senior union activist. Union members said drivers were given only Rs1-3 per km as incentives.
Sources in the aggregator firms said there were welfare schemes for driver partners and the companies were inclined towards ensuring they got better earnings. “Most drivers have no complaints, so there is no need to panic. We are confident the driver partners will continue to be on roads and provide the best service to commuters,” the sources said.
Aggregator cabs are popular among office-goers and flyers at both airports. Many Mumbaikars prefer them for shared journeys from home to workplace and back. Those who want to travel late at night depend largely on them too.
The last strike had left commuters frustrated and drivers lost Rs10,000-20,000, sources said.