Cab drivers' snap stir against IT firm

Six travel agencies, including Ambulance Tours and Travels and Super Settle, had entered into an agreement with Tesco to ferry the company’s 5,000 employees.

Tesco, however, decided to end the agreement on account of “inefficient” service. It is believed that the cab drivers did not operate the vehicles regularly, forcing the software professionals to depend on buses and private vehicles. The employees working in two shifts - 7.30 pm and 10 pm - faced hardships.

In February 2011, the IT firm served legal notices on all the agencies, terminating their services with effect from March 28. It hired two other agencies – Infant Travels and Bhagirathi Travels – to operate vehicles for ferrying its employees.

Over 400 drivers, however, were kept in the dark as neither the travel agencies nor Tesco informed them. They were in for a shock this morning when the head of the transport department at Tesco decided to have the vehicles replaced.

He asked the drivers to replace the old cabs with new ones. Else, the agencies would have to recruit new drivers with new cabs, he warned.

The drivers  protested against the company’s “diktat”, staging a protest from 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm. “The new agencies are ready to hire our services, but Tesco wants us to replace our vehicles which we can’t do. If we are fired suddenly, our families will be affected,” one of the drivers said.

But the IT firm responded late. When the situation threatened to go out of hand, police detained the protesting drivers for a while. Later, police intervened to settle the dispute among Tesco, the travel agencies and the protesters.

Late night, Tesco agreed to extend the agreement by a month so that drivers need not replace their vehicles.

Also, it was aimed at facilitating them to find jobs elsewhere. Finally, the drivers relented. Police denied that they used canes to rein in the protesters.

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