It would be bold to assume all of us have a had a car breakdown on the highway, but in that moment of absolute despair and uncertainty you might not expect anyone to come to your aid, but more often than not, a truck driver will stop and do their best to help you out, because these truck drivers know what it’s like being on the road at any hour of day or night and suffer mechanical issues.
For this sort of nobility, we reward truck drivers with miniscule amounts of dignity – when was the last time a parent told their child “become a truck driver when you grow up”? Truck drivers for all their nobility are treated with absolute disdain, rewarded with a pittance of a salary and the worst possible working conditions. Is it any wonder that the number of truck drivers is on the decline? But there must be a larger underlying cause here, what leads to this treatment?
Well to be frank, it isn’t very difficult to figure out that the underlying cause is a clear lack of attention by the authorities governing the transport industries. Politicians are easily swayed by the transport lobbies which in turn help undermine measures to improve pay and quality of life in the pursuit of profit. Some of the ways these lobbies and companies cut corners with respect to their workers are as follows:
- No meal stipend – truck drivers aren’t given a livable meal stipend and are forced to cheaply cook their own food on portable gas stoves. If you’ve ever stopped at a dhaba during a nighttime bus journey, you know how hungry you can get, imagine being the one driving? Imagine being unable to eat a good, nutritious meal?
- No Health insurance – The transport lobby is by far not the only industry in India that doesn’t provide health insurance. With the rates of informal employment in the country, health insurance is a massive luxury, as is healthcare itself. The job of driving a truck is physically strenuous in subtle but serious ways, mentally and physically and a lack of healthcare can permanently hurt individuals.
- Absence of oversight – Governing bodies and internal regulators turn a blind eye to the needs and issues faced by these individuals, that makes them easy targets for exploitation.
- Lack of Road Safety Education – Truck drivers aren’t given tutorials and instructions on proper road safety, and proper certification is not pursued. Seat belts, specific vehicular management with respect to trucks, documentation in case of accidents, all of this when provided would reduce the risk of incident and injury, while simultaneously helping the driver feel more dignified.
- Lack of dignity and protection – Truck drivers aren’t afforded the dignity of other sorts of employment because of the fact that is seems like lowly, unskilled work, even though proper licensing, skills and certification should be required. Employers should try to raise awareness regarding truck drivers and provide them with support in the case of assault and abuse at the hands of strangers when on the job. When an employee is told to meet a certain deadline and threatened with being fired on failure, will he ever get a chance to report an assault, or take care of himself? Security is a necessity.