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Chaos as online taxis go on strike in Chennai
By Nirmala Joseph January 04, 2018
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CHENNAI: Online taxis went on strike on Wednesday, throwing commuters into utter chaos. Drivers of Uber and Ola taxis were seeking better conditions of work and remuneration.

It is the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) trade union CITU that organised the strike. The Tamil Nadu Call taxi drivers and owners association is affiliated to the CITU.

For many months now, drivers have protested against shrinking incentives and rising performance-linked remunerations paid by the aggregators. Ola and Cab take 27 per cent of earnings as commission and they struggle to meet their family demands. The drivers want the companies to reduce the commission to 7 per cent of their earnings instead.

A CITU leader said the union seeks better working conditions for taxi drivers and limit on the number of hours the drivers work.

The union wants the government to introduce standard auto meters for call taxis and revise the government order relaxing the eight-hours per day restriction on call taxis. They claim that taxi drivers are getting exploited by taxi aggregators.

On Wednesday thousands of commuters across Chennai were forced to pay exorbitant fares for taxi cabs. As about 40,000 cabbies joined the strike, Ola and Uber effected the surge price system that shot up fares, almost three times the normal.

Many commuters said the minimum wait for a taxi during the day was half an hour. While Chennai airport was the worst hit. Impact was also high on the Old Mahabalipuram Road, in Koyambedu Bus Stand and Central and Egmore railway stations.

The striking drivers had also threatened other drivers that there would be a violence outbreak if any of them operates their vehicles on Wednesday. This also contributed to skyrocketing of fares by auto drivers.

Ola/Uber have around 32,000 cabs, while the rest were associated with other aggregators such as NTL, Fasttrack, and Friends.

Thousands of drivers who protested near Chepauk stadium raised slogans demanding the government to constitute a committee to protect the welfare of about 60,000 families involved in the business.

It is known that drivers were are not able to make their ends meet or pay EMIs for their car loans. Ola and Uber encourage drivers to buy cars on loan.

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