March 29, 2020

AIRTWF Demands Aid to Transport Workers amidst Corona Crisis

THE All India Road Transport Workers’ Federation (AIRTWF), wrote to Nitin Gadkari,  minister for road transport and highways, on March 21, appealing the government to supply essential commodities at free of cost to the poor and unorganised workers in the transport sector, in the background of the coronavirus disease pandemic.

“The transport workers ought to be on the road in spite of the odd conditions. Particularly, the auto rickshaw, taxi, private and state transport bus workers are transporting people knowing the danger that they may also be affected by coronavirus. These workers are to be supplied with good quality masks, sanitisers etc at free of cost,” the union leaders demanded.

In its letter to the minister, the union said, “It is not out of place to mention that the Kerala state government has announced several financial assistance measures to the people of the state.  Ironically, the prime minister did not announce any single decision to support the people under this severe crisis.”

Almost 70 per cent of the trucks are off the road due to the reduced production of goods and a number of unorganised transport workers are not getting any earnings during this crisis, causing their families to starve, the union said and urged the government to take suitable steps for their rescue.

In the letter, it is also highlighted that a large number of auto rickshaw, taxi, truck-owner-cum drivers who have purchased the vehicles on loan-basis from either banks or from the private financial institutions are not in a position to pay the loan installments. Hence, it appealed to the government to issue a direction to all such lending agencies to defer the payment of loan installments for three months without any penal interest. 

The union condemned the prime minister for keeping mum on the vital issue of extending financial support in his address to the nation on March 19, “except giving advice to the people who are really suffering and worried about their livelihood. This proves the gross negligence/arrogance of the government towards the people of the nation particularly the sufferings of the unorganised workers,” it lamented.