Chennai: The working condition of thousands of employees of the state-run transport corporations could make an arresting black-and-white documentary and bid for an Oscar as the best heart-wrenching narrative. While the incidence of chronic ailments among bus drivers and conductors is on a steep rise, there has not been any visible effort to elevate the working environment of this crucial segment of the state staff force that hugely contributes to public well-being as well as economic progress.
If Metropolitan Transport Corporation drivers are to be believed they admit that a majority of them do not live past two-three years after retirement. Also, the meager pensions they receive do not help for the medical needs. The number of health related issues that bus drivers and conductors face is aplenty and their grievances go without any relief. They also do not get the time to have their food on time, which has invariably led many of them taking up smoking and drinking tea during odd hours.
A top official from Metropolitan Transport Corporation who wished not to be named said they are taking up steps to help the drivers and conductors cope up with stress.
“We provide them with regular yoga training and as well as health counselling. Experts are brought in from abroad to give them mind-refreshment through several programmes,” he says. He also added that giving them alternate government jobs compensated those employees disabled due to work-related accidents.
K. Natarajan, general secretary, Transport Progressive Union Federation, says that the level of stress they endure during traffic is extreme. “As per a report from Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, each time, a bus driver hits a break, their heart beat rate goes a notch higher. Also, in order to travel from Tambaram to Broadway, a driver must sit continuously for more than one-and-half hours.
This would take a big toll on their health leading to severe cases of lower back pain.” He also adds that they do not have proper and hygienic restrooms to use in any of the terminuses in the city.
Natarajan further informs, “As per the Motor Transport Workers Act 1961, the employees must be given frequent medical checkups as well as proper facilities at the terminus. We have presented these issues several times with the authorities but we are always met with reasons like financial constraints as the factor behind these problems not being addressed.”...