While the most irresponsible statements have been made by the so-called political leaders of our country in connection with the Delhi gang-rape case, it is heartening to see that transport workers’ unions have responded with a high degree of social responsibility.
The All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) and the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) have enrolled union members in sensitisation programmes, to seriously discuss the question: “What can we do to make sure devastating incidents like this don’t happen?”
They have reiterated their commitment to “ensure that attitudes towards women amongst public transport workers are such that co-workers respect one another and passengers are safe”.
A report produced by the Asia Pacific office of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), based in Delhi, shows that the policy on public transport needs revisiting by the Indian government. Referring to this report, the Chairperson of the women’s committee of ITF is reported to have said, “We are aware that one of the men involved in this case is alleged to be the driver of the private bus where the incident took place. It is vital that public transport workers are a permanent workforce that has been trained and sensitised to respect men and women passengers. This is far preferable to contract, casual or precarious workers with no stake, no training, and no respect from the companies they work for.”
The demand that bus drivers and conductors should be part of a permanent workforce that has been trained to respect and protect all passengers deserves the support of all parties and organisations of the working class, as well as the support all those seriously concerned about the safety of our social environment.
S. Udayan, New Delhi