No end in sight for woes of women conductors

No end in sight for woes of women conductors

While the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) was among the first State Transport Undertakings (STUs) in the country to have appointed women as bus conductors, it is yet to ensure dues to the fairer sex in terms of the special privileges, additional medical benefits etc. 

Worse, many of them are now suffering from various medical ailments in what can be termed as occupational hazards.

The BMTC has 1,523 women conductors  and the first woman conductor was appointed in 2003. After the recent incident of a molestation bid on a commuter, the BMTC officials consciously decided to put even their own female staff on day shifts.

Other than occupational hazards such as leg pains, back ache, fatigue, body aches leading to miscarriages and chronic stress, female conductors are often at the mercy of rude and misbehaving passengers.

Geetha (name changed), a conductor, said, “Initially, when I had just joined, people would keep staring at me and my uniform as if to think how a woman can be a bus conductor. That has changed now and people have accepted it. 

“In the past, some male passengers would think that it was alright to take liberties with a female conductor. Since I was new, I did not know how to retaliate. Now I am much stronger to deal with such commuters.” 

Two years ago, researchers conducted a study focussing on female conductors of the BMTC and put forth recommendations and suggestions. 

Recommendations

The study has recommended ten minutes leisure time between trips to reduce musculoskeletal pain and fatigue; introduction of a designated seat for conductors to which commuters would proceed to buy tickets; 60 commuters per bus, according to the Regional Transport Office rules; flexible work schedule and putting an end to night shifts.However, there is still no sign of implementation of most of the suggestions and recommendations. 

Suman Latha (name changed), who has been working with the BMTC as a conductor for over five years now, said, “At times it gets difficult to manage commuters in the bus especially during peak hours. It is unthinkable to expect that commuters will come and buy tickets while I can sit in one place. 

“This way, many will not even bother to buy tickets so I have to be on my toes which often leads to back ache and even swollen feet. But I can’t help it, it is  part of my job”On the above recommendations, the BMTC officials say that it is impossible to restrict the number of passengers directly and mentioned that they are making efforts to ply more buses on the same routes at smaller frequencies to avoid overcrowding. 

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