The All India Road Transport Workers` Federation is organising a national meet to deliberate on issues concerning the livelihood of workers and small operators, who it alleges are being driven out by large corporates with government support.

AIRTWF’s 11th national conference is being organised in Hisar (Haryana) on July 16-18 and will see participation from 600 delegates from all over the country representing auto rickshaw, taxi, private bus, road transport corporation (RTC) bus, Truck, etc.

“The importance of road transport sector in India is increasing on one hand, but is thrown into a serious financial crisis by the draconian policies of the government.,” AIRTWF’s Deputy General Secretary R Lakshmaiah said.

Protecting livelihood

The union said that workers in the unorganised sector are not covered under any of the labour laws. No minimum wage, weekly paid holiday, ESI, PF, etc is given to them. Even the 8-hour work schedule is also not implemented. The government has not acted on these issues till date.

“We are thankful to the National Human Rights Commission for recognising the pitiable conditions of workers and has written letters to the Union Government as well State Governments to take some steps to resolve the issues,” it added.

The position of the State transport undertakings (STUs) is worse, AIRTWF claimed, adding that aged vehicle numbers are mounting. In Tamil Nadu and Telangana, the number has gone up to almost 50 per cent of the fleet and in other STUs it will be more also.

The strength of fleets is also coming down. In Haryana Roadways, the number has come down from 4,000 to 2,300. In Andhra Pradesh, 1,000 buses have been decreased from the bifurcation of the State till now.

“Almost it is the same with all the STUs. At the national level from April 2014 to March 2019, the share of STU buses in the total number of buses in the country has come down from 7.4 to 7.3 per cent,” it said.

The increasing number of electric buses under FAME II on GCC (Gross Contract) system is draining the revenues of the STUs, the union added.

Financial distress

Giving statistics about distress in the sector, the union said according to one assessment even today 30 per cent of the trucks (lorries) are off the road due to scarcity of loads. The seizure of vehicles by the private finance companies has also gone up on the pretext of default of EMI payment.

In Andhra Pradesh alone 60,000 lorries have been seized by the finance companies. The same is the case in other states too. The Uber/Ola cabs in Hyderabad city were 1,63,000 before Covid now they have come down to 83,000. In Chennai they came down from 52,000 to 37,000 and in Bengaluru, they came down from 1,20,000 to 60,000,” the union said.

As far as Auto Rickshaws are concerned, in Bengaluru city the number has come down by 50,000. The number of private buses in Kerala has come down from 36,000 to the lowest of 7,500. In Odisha they have come down from 15,000 to 13,000. In Bihar, they have come down from 35,000 to 25,000. It may be the same position in other States too, it added.