Strikes. Strikes by Auto Rickshaw drivers. Strikes by Bus Transport employees.
Strikes. An old Blackmail method used by the Communists and Socialists [the Left] that unfortunately works even today.
There are two common reasons why Transport related employees strike:
- Competition from the Private Sector or others.
- Demand for Hike in Wages.
Competition from others
Frequently seen in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi, both, employees of state run transcos, as well as auto/taxi drivers have often protested against others disturbing their Monopoly.
The irony of the situation is that such strikes force the public to turn to the aggregators, totally defeating the purpose of the strike. In cities like Mumbai and Pune, an auto or cab strike might affect businesses because both run by the meter. However, the use of non Kaali-Peeli cabs and auots is quite high in the city. In Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, these strikes would be problematic, because the autos in the city rarely go by meter. In the long run, an Uber or Ola would cost lesser than an auto anywhere in Delhi.
Demand for Hike in Wages
The other reason for a strike, a more legitimate one, is the demand for a hike in wages.
Recently, employees of BMTC, KSRTC, NW/NE-KRTC in Karnataka went on a 3-day strike demanding a 35% hike in wages. Though the strike lasted only three days, it was declared as indefinite, and would have gone on had the Government of Karnataka not convinced the striking staff to accept a 10.5% hike. This strike made life miserable for people in Bangalore. Autos began fleecing commuters, something that they are experts at. To compound the issue, the Karnataka Government’s draconian 1950-era rules for Cabs and Aggregators just made life miserable. With some universities choosing to remain open, life looked very dystopian.
In Ocober 2015, BEST employees threatened to strike because the higher-ups held back their Diwali bonus. Common sense prevailed and the strike was called off.
This kind of strike is a bit legitimate, since employees do deserve an occasional pay hike.
Now, what can be done?
What can be done about a strike?
A Strike or Bandh can cripple a city, or in this case, a state. It kills productivity, and destroys the economy. Of course, there are some people who claim that Strikes and Bandhs are Good for the Environment.
Here are some methods to help limit strikes and their impacts on the society and its economy.
A decentralised transport system limits the impact of a strike. A strike by BEST employees won’t affect transport in Nagpur. However a strike by BMTC will affect Mysore since BMTC is essentially a subsidiary of KSRTC.
- Salaries must be on par with inflation and the private sector. Bus drivers and conductors aren’t the ones with the easiest job in the world. Pay them what they’re worth.
- Take strict action against those striking. Just because employees belong to a government body, that doesn’t let them strike as and when they feel like.
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