TSCBOA asks Uber, Ola to resume talks with protesting drivers

Hyderabad: The Telangana State Cabs and Bus Operators Association (TSCBOA) on Wednesday asked the managements of Uber and Ola to resume talks with their drivers who launched an agitation against them.

In separate letters sent to Transport Minister P. Mahender Reddy and Uber management, TSCBOA President Syed Nizamuddin said that the ongoing tussle between the cab drivers with the managements of both Uber and Ola should be resolved through negotiations. “It is highly regrettable that the Uber and Ola managements have refused to hold any negotiations with the drivers who took to the path of agitation complaining of injustices and dishonouring of contract by those companies. This issue involves lives and careers of thousands of drivers and their families,” he said in his letter to the minister.

Syed Nizamuddin said that the drivers, who joined Uber and Ola, purchased new vehicles by taking huge loans from banks and private institutions on high interest rates. They are all poor and belong to SC, ST, BC, Minorities and other economically backward groups. They took the risk of purchasing new vehicles on loans on the assurance that they would be given sufficient business and opportunity to earn a decent living. But now thousands of drivers have been complaining that the promises made to them were not being honoured, he said.

The TSCBOA president said that the cab drivers had launched a massive agitation last month and even went on a 5-day strike. The issue was also raised in the Telangana State Legislative Assembly on January 6 and following an assurance given by the Transport Minister, a meeting was also convened in the office of Regional Transport Authority on the same day. During the meeting, the Uber and Ola management sought 24-hours time to come up with a solution. However, they did not turn up for the meeting the next day and the issue was dragged till January 9. “The Uber and Ola managements did not respond and unfortunately, the representatives of drivers’ associations, who turned up for the meeting at RTA office were arrested and implicated in false cases,” he alleged.

Syed Nizamuddin said that the cab drivers tried to hold negotiation with the Uber management on January 10. But unfortunately, they refused to speak on the issue citing an injunction they acquired from the Ranga Reddy district court against the Telangana Cab Drivers and Owners Association and the Telangana State Cabs Association. “The court injunction restrained the unions and people acting under their instructions from stopping/blocking the cars of Uber driver-partners, confiscating their devices or interfering in Uber’s business in any manner. All of us accept, respect and honour the injunction granted by the court. But at the same time, we would like to state that the court did not direct the cab drivers to drop their demands. There is no injunction on holding negotiations and resolving the issue,” he said.

He accused the Uber and Ola managements of deliberately misinterpreting the court orders to mislead the authorities. He urged the Transport Minister to direct the Uber and Ola management to resume talks with the drivers and resolve their issues in an amicable manner.

 Syed Nizamuddin said that the drivers have been asking the Uber and Ola managements to honour the promises that they made to them. “The managements should listen to the drivers’ woes and offer a solution, at least on humanitarian grounds,” he said.

 He also said that the State Government has erred in not regulating the aggregators and they were let free to act and behave as per their whims and fancies. “The State Government cannot escape from its responsibility by citing jurisdictional limitations. This issue involves more than 1 lakh drivers and their families living in our Telangana State. Therefore, it is the duty of the State Government to resolve the problems being faced by the drivers,” he said.

He urged the minister to direct the RTA authorities to summon Uber and Ola managements to resume talks with the agitating drivers -NSS

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