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Mumbai taxi & auto drivers postpone strike against cab aggregators


The proposed auto-taxi strike called by two unions in Maharashtra has been postponed to the 1st of September, due to intervention from the state transport minister Diwakar Raote, reports the Hindustan Times. The strike is against app-based aggregators like Ola and Uber and calls for regulation of these services.

According to the report, the Maharashtra state government has agreed to hold a meeting with the stakeholders to discuss their demands. The protest is led by the Jai Bhagwan Taxi Rickshaw Sanghatana and the union led by Shashank Rao, and was to be undertaken because Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis postponed his meeting on the same topic with the unions and representatives of cab aggregators.

In June, the Jai Bhagwan union had protested in Mumbai, asking for action to be taken against cab aggregators for their lower price points. They said that Uber and Ola’s services were offered for Rs 6 per km, whereas the government fixed rate was Rs 8 per km, leading to an alleged wipe out of taxis and autorickshaws in the city. At the time, the union said that taxis would not ply from 26 July if the government did not order an inquiry into the issue. The strike was called off after the union expressed its concerns to Fadnavis.

Delhi auto and taxi strike

In July, 20 unions of taxi and rickshaw drivers in Delhi went on a strike against cab aggregators. They then formed a Joint Action Committee which claimed to have 85,000 rickshaws and 15,000 black and yellow taxis. The Delhi Government then said that this was an issue the Centre needed to take up, since this was not in their overview.

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Upfront fares and suspending surge pricing

In June, Uber implemented an “upfront fare” in parts of the US and in India where users could see how much a ride would cost, taking into factor expected travel time, distance, traffic, surge and tolls where applicable for the fare. In the same month, it suspended surge pricing in Karnataka and Delhi after capping fares at rates fixed by the government in Delhi. Ola and Uber had suspended surge pricing in Delhi in April as well, following a government warning that it would take strict action, including impound cabs and cancellation of permits, against those who flouted government rules.

Maharashtra’s City Taxi Scheme 2015

In October last year, the Maharashtra Government proposed that online cab aggregators be brought under the ambit of the Motor Vehicles Act, maintain a limited number of vehicles and cap surge pricing. In the same month, it released a draft of the City Taxi Scheme 2015. Following this, Uber said that the state needed to adopt a more ‘progressive regulatory framework’ for cab aggregators.

The protests have not been free of violence

In August 2015, Uber said that some of its Pune and Mumbai cabs were damaged and drivers assaulted by some groups of people. In June 2015, 150 cabs were damaged in a protest by when offline taxi unions staged protests against cab aggregators.

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Our online cabs coverage.

Image credit: Jorge Royan under CC BY SA 3.0

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