Kerala women bus conductors quit over pay disparity

31 Jan 2017 | By Vijaya
Discrimination against women bus conductors in Kerala?

Most of the women bus conductors employed by means of the state-run Kudumbashree scheme in Kerala, quit en masse, due to alleged pay disparity between women and men conductors.

According to one of the woman conductors all but one of the 90 recruited women quit. She said that, "while men were paid Rs 800-900 per day, the maximum amount she got was Rs 500."

In context: Discrimination against women bus conductors in Kerala?

BackgroundTraining women under kudumbashree scheme

Kudumbashree, launched in 1998, is a 'poverty eradication' project by the Kerala government.

The programme is aimed at empowering women and according to the government it has "39.97 lakh members and covers more than 50% of the households in Kerala."

As part of this scheme, around 90 women were trained to be inducted as conductors in private buses last year.

29 Jan 2017Failing women empowerment

While Kudumbashree is a great step in grass root development to uplift women from poverty, its failure to keep up the pay parity in case of Kerala women bus conductors, is a contradiction for what it set out to do for equality in workforce.

These women conductors reportedly are paid just over half of what men in the sector earn for the same job.

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31 Jan 2017Kerala women bus conductors quit over pay disparity

Government maintains that 26 of the 90 women still working

The government maintained that 26 of the 90 women conductors are still working. Further Kudumbashree has suspended the training programme and is unlikely to revive it.
Officials cite different reasons

31 Jan 2017Officials cite different reasons

President of Kerala State Private Bus Operator's Federation did not acknowledge the discriminatory pay and attributed the reason for women conductors' reluctance to continue their job to other aspects.

He said that the difficult work timings, often starting at 5 am and ending at 9 pm, and lack of adequate facilities for women at private bus stands, were the causes for attrition.

Pink buses to have women conductors

The Kerala state government flagged off another initiative to start "pink buses" exclusively for women passengers and will have women conductors. As of now, two pink buses have been started in the city of Thiruvananthapuram.