March 03, 2024

Defeat BJP to Protect the Transport Sector: AIRTWF

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The national working committee meeting of the All India Road Transport Workers’ Federation  (AIRTWF) , met on  February 27-28 in Thiruvananthapuram, and unanimously resolved to work hard to defeat the BJP led NDA in the ensuing general elections.

The meeting reviewed the situation in the road transport sector and the plight of workers. As soon as the Modi led government took office in 2014, it started the attack on road transport sector by bringing in the Road Safety Bill with the aim of handing over the entire road transport sector to big corporate houses.

Subsequently, the legislation was renamed as MV Act Amendment 2019, introducing several provisions that facilitated the potential closure of Regional Transport Corporations (RTCs). Over the past decade, diesel prices and insurance premiums have doubled. The proliferation of toll plazas, accompanied by a substantial hike in toll charges, has added to the industry's woes. Stringent penalties have been imposed, and the introduction of a vehicle scrapping policy has further worsened the crisis in the road transport sector.

The unorganised workers in road transport are not covered by any labour law, such as an eight-hour workday, weekly rest, and benefits like Provident Fund (PF) and Employee State Insurance (ESI). These workers lack any form of social security, and their longstanding plea for the enactment of a Social Security Act remains unanswered to date. The impact of these policies has plunged the road transport sector into a state of severe crisis.

App-based companies like Uber, Ola, Rapido, etc., are exploiting drivers, imposing various burdens on customers, and amassing substantial profits, amounting to lakhs of crores of rupees. In response to this situation, the demand that the Government of India should introduce an alternative app, has fallen on deaf ears.

Exacerbating the crisis in road transport sector, the government enacted the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita-2023, significantly increasing the duration of imprisonment and penalties under Section 106(1) (2). This development has triggered anxiety among drivers, culminating in a strike on January 1-2, 2024.

Subsequently, the government engaged in negotiations with the AIRTWF and said consultations will be held before implementation. However, there is no assurance of withdrawing the draconian provisions. A notification has been issued for the enactment of the Act, excluding Section 106(2). Consequently, subsection 1 of Section 106 is poised for implementation. It remains a possibility that the government may notify 106(2) for implementation at any given time.

In light of the above situation, the national working committee has unanimously resolved to oppose the BJP-led NDA in the upcoming elections. The meeting has further decided to launch an extensive campaign among road transport workers nationwide, on the following demands:

  • Withdrawal of Section 106(1) & (2) of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, with a corresponding amendment to be introduced in parliament.
  • Enactment of a Social Security Act specifically for unorganised road transport workers.
  • Repeal of the M V Act Amendment 2019.
  • Regulation of diesel prices, insurance premiums, and toll charges.
  • Development of an alternative app by the Government of India to counter  Uber/Ola/Rapido, aiming to safeguard the interests of both drivers and customers.
  • Making the vehicle scrapping policy optional rather than mandatory.
  • Implementation of policy decisions to strengthen and expand regional transport corporations (RTCs).
  • Entrusting the procurement, maintenance, and operation of electric buses to RTCs, with the provision of necessary financial support.




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