Bengaluru: Majority of cab drivers have gone on an indefinite strike from Wednesday against cab aggregators Uber and Ola. After postponing meetings with the drivers for over a month, Ola and Uber on Wednesday said that they cannot concede to any of the demands made by the cabbies.
The statement triggered the protest. "We will not withdraw the strike this time. 80% of drivers stopped their cabs on Wednesday morning, while 20% joined later. Companies need us more than we need them," said Mr Kiran Gowda, President, Karunada Rajya Taxi Owners' and Drivers' Association.
Ramesh Gowda, a member of the Bruhat Bengaluru Taxi Drivers' Union said, "The drivers protested in front of Uber office on Wednesday. Some drivers threw stones, but it was stopped after we requested them." In a video that was circulated, a driver is seen hitting a CCTV camera with a stick in front of the cab office.
"There are 45,000 cabs running in the city without permits. Why is the government not withdrawing their license," asked Mr Radhakrishna Holla, President, Bengaluru Tourist Taxi Operators' Association.
The cab drivers have alleged that the companies are not paying them the promised incentives unless they ran 18 trips a day, which is almost impossible to meet.
"The cab companies must install proper digital meters to calculate the fare. They are looting the customer through GPS fares. It is not economical for the driver who earns his livelihood," the drivers said.
Advocate M.N. Kumar said, "The GPS calculates fares without using the wheel base which is not accurate. The consumers and drivers are victims and it amounts to deficiency in service under the Consumer Protection Act. Also, as per labour laws, drivers have a right to weekly offs, incentives, commissions, health requirements and more."
Transport expert Sathya from PraajaRAAG said, "We need a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority. We want industry experts who can hand out licences and regulate and not retired government officials in the authority."
In 2016 December, Uber challenged the government's order on cab aggregator policies in the High Court and got a stay. Since then, the Transport Department says it is powerless.
"The Transport Department is using the stay as an excuse. The issue came up when cabs were running without a licence. These companies want the licence but are not complying with the rules," Mr Kumar said.
Transport Commissioner M.K. Aiyappa said, "The issue is between the drivers and cab companies. We cannot step in. We do not have the power to withdraw the cab permits because of the court stay." Mr Sathya said that if citizens are affected, the government has the right to withdraw the licence....