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Kerala’s women bus conductors face discrimination; quit En Masse

In a development that highlights the wide gender pay gap in the country, women bus conductors in Kerala have quit their jobs in large numbers. These women were recruited as bus conductors in 2016, under the Kudumbashree scheme launched by the State government to eradicate poverty. The scheme aimed at providing a good life to women, but after six months, many women bus conductors have quit their jobs. Government data indicates that 64 of the 90 women conductors have quit their jobs. However, people familiar with the issue said that a lot more women have quit their jobs.

The primary issue seems to be the discrimination in pay, as male conductors get Rs 800-900 per day, whereas the women conductors are paid only Rs 500, even when they work for 12 hours every day. However, a different opinion was provided by the Kerala State Private Bus Operators’ Federation, which said that the real issue was inconvenient hours and lack of facilities for women at bus stops.

The gender pay gap issue is widespread in India, even when there’s the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976 designed to deal with such issues. The issue is also there in the corporate sector, where it has been reported that a woman gets only around one-third the pay of a male colleague in a similar position.

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