A 24-hour motor strike called by road transport unions affected movement of vehicles in Kerala, Haryana and Tamil Nadu on Tuesday.
The All India Coordination Committee of Road Transport Workers’ Organisations called the strike in protest against provisions of the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill and the rise in fuel prices. The bill, which was approved by the Lok Sabha in 2017, is awaiting the Rajya Sabha’s approval.
The bill proposes to allow private players to enter the public transport system, and also control and regulate permits and taxation. It aims to create a National Transportation Policy within the ambit of the Motor Vehicles Act, giving more power to the Centre, reported Mint. At present, public transport is operated by state transport undertakings controlled by state governments.
Tapan Sen, the general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, said the bill, if enacted, would pave the way for destruction of state-owned public transport corporations. It would expedite the process of complete privatisation of public transport system, leading to a monopoly and increase in public transport fares, he added.
In Kerala, private and state-run buses, school buses, goods carriers, and taxis stayed off the roads. A collective of trade unions of the State Road Transport Corporation’s employees began a 24-hour strike from Monday midnight, demanding a wage hike and payment of dues in Dearness Allowance, Manorama Online reported.
In Bengaluru, autorickshaws will be off roads until 6 pm, and private cab unions have expressed support for the strike too, reported The Times of India. In Chennai, private cabs and buses will be off the roads, but some state-run buses are likely to run, the daily reported.
Mahatma Gandhi University and the varsities in Kannur and and Calicut have postponed examinations. The Kerala University of Health Sciences has also postponed all theory exams. The institutions said they would announce new dates soon. Kerala University said exams of the distance education department would be held on September 13.
The Haryana Roadways State Transport began a one-day strike against the proposed bill and the state government’s decision to include private buses in its fleet, ANI reported.
In Tamil Nadu, private buses, taxis and autorickshaws are likely to stay off the roads. Most transport workers’ unions, except those affiliated to the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, said their workers would stay away, reported The Times of India.
“We are taking all possible efforts to ensure that available buses are operated on Tuesday,” an unidentified senior official of the state transport department said. “We have instructed all the depot managers not to grant leave to drivers and conductors for the day.”
Movement of goods along the borders of Kerala and Karnataka is also likely to be affected.
The treasurer of the Labour Progressive Federation of Transport Workers, K Natarajan, said the bill, if passed, would increase the domination of corporate companies in the state transport corporations. “Issuance of fitness certificate to buses should not go into the hands of the private companies,” The New Indian Express. The federation is affiliated to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
In Karnataka, state-run bus services were operational as the biggest union – KSRTC Staff and Workers Federation – did not participate in the strike. However, private taxi operators, including Ola and Uber, reportedly joined the strike, reported Business Today. In Telangana, Auto Drivers Joint Action Committee of the state supported the day-long strike.