Institute Piedade, D.B Marg, Panjim, GOA – 403001
Tel: 0832-2422821, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Scam or Scheme
The Centre for Responsible Tourism (CRT) is committed to respond to the impacts and challenges of tourism in Goa. The primary question for CRT always is who really benefits from Tourism?
Actual practice reveals that local people are left only with the crumbs of the industry. The GTDC promoted Women Taxi Services is another case of proof.
Women taxi drivers cheated by Mumbai-based firm
In October 2014, the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) announced it was launching a first-of-a-kind service in Goa tourist taxis driven by women for women. The GTDC also claimed that this was a step forward to cater to women tourists and residents in the State. 10 brand new air-conditioned taxis were made available to ply to and from the airport, hotels, railway stations, and bus terminals. It also claimed that taxi fares would be nominal which were government approved.
The truth and the lies
Three months down the line, the scheme stands exposed for its fraudulent claims as well as its manner of functioning. The public deserves to know that they have been misled in many ways.
- The scheme is not an initiative operated under the aegis of GTDC. The GTDC may be the beneficiary of a small commission – no more.
- The public has been misled. It is owned and operated by Green Earth Translogistics Pvt. limited. The administrative office that manages Goa is located in Thane, Mumbai. The Corporate office is in Delhi. The company is specialized in warehousing and road transportation. On taxi services their experience does not show up in their website. It begs the question: On what basis were they chosen? Employees were given a ‘gag order’ NOT TO EXPOSE THE FACT THE COMPANY WAS FROM OUTSIDE GOA AND NOT A GTDC PROJECT. Vouchers for payment are given under “Green Earth Translogistics”.
- The salaries originally promised and actually provided differ vastly. The company has cheated the employees and the GTDC has chosen to stand by idly.
- Lack of security
- There is no security for the women. The promise of secure cars does not exist. Lock-in systems/central locking does not exist as advertised. This offers no safety for the drivers and the company is not automatic but manual which leaves the women drivers vulnerable. The Emergency panic button in the cab is not operational and the emergency phone is not operative after 7 pm.
- While the original intent was to protect women drivers by not allowing them to drive male customers alone (it had to have female passengers or families with at least woman present), this rule has been violated and the women drivers are compelled to transport men in their cabs.
- In variance to the initially agreed upon rules, the women are now also being drawn into night services – not in any way safe under Goa’s current conditions of security to women.
- The claim that taxi drivers are trained in first aid and self defense is highly exaggerated. At best, they were given half-day training in both fields. Woefully inadequate. To say that the drivers are trained in martial arts is not an exaggeration- it is a white lie.
- Contrary to the original boast, portable fire extinguishers & first aid kit are not available in the car.
- The claim that these taxis are properly metered is false. Meters under use are often defective which nullifies the claim that this is a clean operation. In the original scheme, it was claimed that First electronic fare meters with digital receipt print-outs in the State would be made available. In fact, the meters may have worked well for just a few days.
- While salary levels were marked at Rs. 15,000/-, this level of salary is not maintained and some are even paid Rs. 6000/-.
- Other deficiencies in the financial and personnel management of staff include
- Overtime payments are not disbursed according to practice.
- Appointment letters have not been provided even after 3 months.
- Evidence that PF dues are properly deducted does not reflect in the salary statement
- Pay slips are not provided to employees.
- The scheme was advertised as one which was at par with modern day trends. The claim that fare payment options were available through Card / Cash are false. Only cash payments are accepted.
- Monitoring of cab movement at all times by the central control room. This does not happen after 7 pm.
- Prominent display of emergency contact numbers – not displayed.
- Employees who complain on working conditions and injustice are threatened with termination from work. Such forms of harassment are rampant.
- New employees who have been taken often do not have badges and are a road risk.
At the launch, the project was portrayed as one which would ensure respectable employment opportunities for local women who come from marginalized and resource poor communities and families. The working conditions resemble slave-like conditions. Most of those who joined the taxi service of what they believed to be GTDC did so because they thought GTDC would offer them respectable and reliable employment. They left secure jobs assuming that GTDC represented greener pastures! Having come to GTDC their experience is that even their dignity is taken away. They are forced to stand on the road and receive their salaries as if they were daily wage workers.
Bottom of Form
- All employees must have the backlog of salaries cleared and a fixed date for disbursement of salaries be fixed for the future (In some cases, two months salaries are unpaid)
- All employees should receive insurance coverage
- All employees must be entitled to a day off every week including compensatory holidays for public holidays.
- All employees must have a designated 8-hour day with provision for Overtime payments which should be disbursed regularly.
- All employees must have clarity and proof regarding PF and ESI deductions
- Backlog of TA/DA for meetings and trainings attended.
- Payment of the October stipend as agreed.
- All original certificates submitted be returned
Our preferred long term solution and proposal to the government:
CRT is of the firm view that government should support all efforts only towards self-employed taxi owners/drivers facilitating loans from banks on easy terms that promote Goan Entrepreneurship.
Fr. Freddy Braganza
08th January 2015