Kolkata, Dec 18: With trade unions calling for a 24-hour-long taxi strike to protest against West Bengal government's alleged apathy to improve their working condition, commuters in the city are in for a hard time on Friday.
The CITU and the AITUC have called the strike demanding a revised fare structure besides scrapping of the Rs 3,000 fine imposed on drivers for refusing passengers. Apart from the two trade unions, most of the taxi unions in the city other than the Trinamool Congress-backed Progressive Taxi Union, would participate in the strike tomorrow alleging police atrocities.
"The strike is to protest against police torture on our drivers. We have also scheduled for a Nabanna movement," CITU leader Anadi Sahu told PTI. The rally to state secretariat Nabanna has been scheduled from Howrah station at around 1 pm, he said.
Criticising the role of the state government for not showing any interest in solving the issue despite several protests and strikes, Sahu recalled of setting a deadline of December 16 for the government to accept its demands.
There will be taxis present at crucial junctures of the city: Guha
"We had written to the Chief Minister, Transport Secretary and TMC general secretary Mukul Roy, informing them of our decision. In our letter we had mentioned if our demands are not met by December 16, we will be forced to call a 24-hour strike on December 19," Sahu said.
Association of taxi owners in the city, the Bengal Taxi Association general secretary Bimal Guha reiterated Sahu's words and said "No taxis will ply in the city though few taxis for emergency services will be present at crucial junctures of the city to help the citizens".
"There will be taxis present at crucial junctures of the city to provide emergency services to patients and students scheduled for examinations," Guha said.
Since August, Left-backed trade unions have called nine strikes demanding rise in the minimum fare from Rs 25 to Rs 35 with the fine of Rs 3,000 on drivers for passenger-refusals be slashed to Rs 100 and dropping of legal proceedings against 450 cab owners.