After talks broke down between the state transport minister Madan Mitra and Taxi Drivers’ union acrimoniously, taxi drivers affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) would hold a protest meet at Y-channel at Esplanade as the city braces for another unannounced taxi strike on Monday.
“It is not a strike. About 37,000 taxi drivers would participate in the meeting and would not be able to take their cabs out. Commuters would naturally be inconvenienced but the state government had to be blamed for that,” said Subhash Mukherjee, CITU leader. He said talks failed to reach an amicable decision. “The All-party Committee and the Expert Committee could not produce any result for the taxi drivers. We are unable to keep the vehicles on road.”
Mukherjee added that their further protest programme would be announced at the meeting.
Members of six bus operators association have also called for a 72-hour strike from Wednesday.
“We have met the state transport minister several times and the AITC general secretary Mukul Roy today but no one could find a way to get the bus owners out of their plight,” said Tapan Banerjee, joint secretary, Joint Council of Bus Syndicates.
He said over 42, 000 buses and mini buses belonging to six organisations — Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, Bengal Bus Syndicate, Mini Bus Operators Coordination Committee, All Bengal Bus Mini Bus Samannay Samity, north Bengal Passengers Owners Transport Committee and Howrah Zila Bus Minibus Samannay Samity — would be kept off road. He added that if the government didn’t take any favourable decision soon, they would be forced to keep the buses off road permanently.
Mitra, however, said the state would provide extra buses for commuters and would take action against bus and taxi owners who cause any trouble to them .
Cabbies went on a day’s strike on August 7 demanding a halt to alleged police harassment and withdrawal of imposition of penalty of Rs 3,000 on cabbies for refusing passengers.
Twenty-two drivers were arrested during the protest and taxis went off the roads for two days since Monday last with cabbies demanding their unconditional release.