KOCHI:The ‘fight’ between online taxi services and the trade unions of taxi drivers has reached the next level with the former launching a union of their own. The formation of All Kerala Online Taxi Drivers’ Union is being viewed with suspicion by the existing trade unions who fear that it would further escalate the tension in the sector.
The launching of online taxi services like Uber and Ola, that offer cheaper rates than private taxis, had created a rift among the drivers in the city, often leading to physical assault. The new trade union comes in the wake of the mounting resistance against the online taxis from the traditional private taxis.
The office bearers of the All Kerala Online Taxi Drivers’ Union said that their aim is to ensure the safety of drivers and to protect their right to live and work.
The union will also submit a mass petition signed by more than 3,000 cabbies to the government demanding protection of their livelihood. Representatives of the private taxi drivers said that the online taxi drivers had every right to float a union of their own. However, they suspect a corporate design to create rift among the work force and pit the workers against each other.
“We have no problem with them floating a union,” said M S Raju, district secretary of Private Motor Thozhilali Federation (AITUC). However, Raju feared that in the present situation, this might create more tension.
According to them, private taxi services were facing turbulent times as drivers are struggling for survival with the introduction of online taxi services of corporate companies luring the public with cheap fares, Raju said.
The trade unions are demanding the government to regulate the online cab services by asking them to stick to fares fixed by the government, ensuring a level playing ground for all.
To counter the infiltration of the corporate online taxi services on its own terms, the private taxis under the CITU have started working on an online service platform in the district. The call taxi service by the CITU is expected to be launched soon, members said.