Three women taxi drivers formerly employed with Goa’s first all women radio taxi service have alleged violation of labour laws by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), a state government-run corporation, which has outsourced taxi operations to a private firm.
The women taxi drivers have alleged that at the time of recruitment last year they were informed that they had been employed by the corporation, but once the taxi service started in October last year they realised that their employer was actually a private firm.
“We have been cheated into joining this job. We were told we were working for the government but when the taxi service started it wasn’t the case. We were being harassed by the outsourced company which is subjecting us to extended work hours without compensation,” said Shamali Naik.
Naik is one of three taxi drivers from a fleet of 10, who have alleged harassment.
“It had started as a taxi service for women, but soon after being launched we were asked to drive all-male groups of passengers. It was unsafe,” she said, adding that a complaint has been filed with the state labour authority.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday GTDC chairman Nilesh Cabral rubbished the allegation, claiming Naik, along with the two other women taxi drivers, had been sacked for misconduct.
“We sacked them because they refused to pay back the money they earned while making trips,” Cabral said.
“At no point did we say that they were being recruited by the corporation. We do not run the taxi service. It has been outsourced by us to the private company,” he said.
The women’s taxi service had been launched with much fanfare by the tourism ministry in October last year, with the objective of sending a signal that Goa was a safe tourism destination for women.
The GPS-enabled service was launched with 10 women drivers with professional licences, who were also trained in martial arts and basic knowledge about Goa’s tourism landscape.