THE All India Co-ordination Committee of Road Transport Workers’ Organisations has called upon road transport workers and owners of the country to go on strike on August 7, demanding withdrawal of draconian MV Act (Amendment) Bill 2017 that paves way for corporates into the core transport sector. The call was given at the meeting of motor transport workers and vehicle owners held at Thiruvananthapuram on July 14.
The MV Act bill was passed by Lok Sabha on April 10, 2017, overruling the objections raised by the Left and other opposition parties. When it was placed in the Rajya Sabha on the next day, it was referred to standing committee on the demand of the opposition parties, initiated by Sitaram Yechury and Tapan Sen. Now it is being listed in the business of Rajya Sabha.
The government is making false claims that the bill is intended to reduce road accidents and fatalities. If the government is really serious to reduce the accidents, it should have come forward to strengthen the state road transport corporations which record the lowest accident rate. But contrary to that, the bill is aimed at dismantling the state transport undertakings (STUs).
Private operators who are obtaining permit as contract carriage and operating as stage carriages, violating the permit rules, will be legalised. This bill will lead to loss of livelihood for crores of self employed in the transport sector and allied sectors. At a time when the industry is passing through serious crisis, instead of taking suitable steps to support the industry and the workers, the government resorted to further burden the industry by enhancing the transport service charges abnormally, revising the fuel charges on daily basis, enhancing the insurance premium by the IRDA etc.
The Amendment Bill neither considered the ineffective road infrastructure nor the conditions and earnings of the drivers while enhancing many folds the penalties and punishments on the drivers. The work being done now by the transport department officials is proposed to be outsourced and the new vehicle registration will be done by the dealer itself. This is not only a threat to the transport department employees but also to the national security at large as the dealers hold no accountability.
All these proposals were there in the Road Transport and Safety Bill 2014. After a prolonged and sustained struggle including the all India strike of motor workers in April 2015, the government withdrew it and brought it back in the name of MV Act Amendment Bill.
THIRD PARTY INSURANCE PREMIUM
The third party insurance premium has been enhanced to 100 percent during the last four years. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) replied to a petition under RTI Act that they don’t have the details of the amount collected as premium and the amount paid to the victims of the accidents.
The unorganised transport workers are neither covered by any of the legislations such as PF, ESI, MTW Act nor by any social security scheme/Act to help them in sickness/accidents/old age.
The VV Giri National Labour Institute which studied the problems of the road transport workers has given a report to the union government duly recommending a Social Security Act to cover these workers. Yet neither the earlier nor the present BJP government implemented these recommendations.
The state road transport corporations are providing transport to the interior villages although they are unviable. The state governments have announced travel concessions/ free travel to different sections of the society. Accident rate is the lowest in the country in the STU buses. STUs are providing employment to SC/ST/OBCs/women as per the reservation rules.
At this juncture, the union government instead of coming forward to take suitable steps to save the industry, brought the draconian MV Act Amendment Bill to bury the industry and hand over this key sector to big Indian and foreign companies in the name of “aggregator” like Uber/Ola in all the segments of the road transport sector to operate vehicles, to control maintenance/repairs and spare parts. As of now in the existing MV Act 1988, there is no such provision for the big houses.
In this background the All India Co-ordination Committee of Road Transport Workers Organisations decided to put an end to the menace and to save the industry and to protect the interest of the workers. Hence the Co-ordination Committee had given the call for the August 7 strike.