Kerala women bus conductors quit over pay disparity

Kerala women bus conductors quit over pay disparity

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 30:In Kerala, female bus conductors are a reality.

In fact, through a state-run poverty-eradication scheme called Kudumbasree, about 90 women were recruited and trained to be bus conductors on Kerala’s private buses last year. Except, just six months in, most the new recruits have quit laying waste to the grand plans to equality in the workforce.

Why, you ask? The answer is same always–pay disparity.

As per a report published in The Hindu, all but one female conductors have quit their jobs. In fact, one of the women on the condition of anonymity told the daily that despite working for over 12 hours a day, she was getting paid almost half the wage of her male counterparts.

“I worked for Rs 300 a day for the initial three months, and after persistent demands, it was increased to Rs 500. Then I was told that there would be no more wage hike despite putting in over 12 hours a day even as men were paid Rs 800 to Rs 900. So, I left after five months,” she said.

Of course, the officials are singing a different tune. The president of the Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation maintains that a lack of comfort stations for women and long working hours were making things difficult for its women conductors.

Many bus owners had supported Kudumbasree’s venture, hoping that the presence of a female authority on their buses would put an end to the clashes between the crew and passengers.

Well, whatever the reason for bringing aboard female bus conductors might have been, they deserve equal pay as male counterparts. It’s easy to preach about gender equality; hell, our politicians and Government authorities do it all the time. But when will they practice what they preach?

Gender does not define a person’s competency. Neither does it negate hard work. So, if a woman puts in the same amount of work as a man and gets the same result–she should be entitled to the same salary.

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