Driven into poverty due to moderate movement of commuters in urban centers in the middle of the second wave of the With the COVID-19 pandemic, app-based drivers across Telangana on Saturday refrained from driving to record their protest against cabin aggregators.
The demonstration was harea under the aegis of the Telangana State Taxi and Drivers Joint Action Committee–an umbrella body made up of 20 unions of concert and platform workers. Protesters too commemorated the International Labor Day, commonly known as May 1, which is celebrated every year on May 1st.
“Nearly 25,000 drivers in Telangana today boycotted the drive applications – either by not logging in or by turning off their phones absolutely,” mentionned Shaik Salauddin, president of the joint action committee. Symbolic protests were held in other parts of the country under the banner of the Indian Federation of Application-Based Transport Workers (IFAT), he added.
The drivers who protested were those associated with the country’s leading carpooling aggregators, namely Ola and Uber.
According to Salauddin, Saturday’s protest was seen mainly because the requests raised by the parity committee remained not satisfied despite continued skyrocketing Covid-19 case, which jeopardized the livelihoods of application-based pilots. “The second wave caused a massive decrease in the number of trips, which had a negative impact on the monthly income of the drivers. At the same time, without adequate protection, these workers also put themselves at risk of being infected every day, ”he said.
Over 400 application-based pilots in Telangana have so far tested positive for the Covid-19 infection, Salauddin alleged. Additionally, it indexed the number of infected app-based delivery personnel to 281 through Saturday.
However, there is no complete restriction on movement in the form of a lockdown in Telangana because of again. It’s different Delhi, Maharashtra, and Karnataka among others where a complete stop was announced in view of the increase Covid-19 cases which have to put additional pressure on the already dilapidated health infrastructure.
On Friday, the government headed by K. Chandrashekar Rao decided extend the statewide nighttime curfew for an additional seven days until May 8. The decision came on a day the state reported 7,646 new cases by Covid-19 and 53 victims because of the same.
The drivers’ joint action committee via app sent a letter earlier this week at the Hyderabad offices of Ola and Uber. The committee had demanded this aggregators among others should set the rate per kilometer in accordance with government guidelines, provide effective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits to all drivers and provide a fixed per diem allowance of Rs 1,175 to drivers who have contracted Covid-19 infection.
In addition, the umbrella organization demanded a death benefit of Rs 25 lakh from the parents of the driver.s who would succumb to Covid-19, as well as health and accident insurance for all drivers.
The app-based driver community “which was once reeling from rising fuel prices, is now suffering devastating effects due to the second wave ofovid-19 ”, motivated the committee in the letter.
Salauddin said on Saturday that the the umbrella organization will continue to press for these demands, that are “relevant” to drivers using apps across the country.
At the same time, a Twitter campaign under the hashtag “DriverLifeMatters” was launched by IFAT on May 1st. As part of it, the federation called on governments – central and state – to include “passenger transport operators” and other transport workers in the priority list to receive a first stroke of Covid-19 vaccine.