OTTAWA, Aug. 12, 2015 /CNW/ - Unifor Local 1688, representing Ottawa taxi drivers, is offering free rides from the Ottawa Airport today for the elderly and families with children, as a dispute with the airport authority over a jump in dispatch fees continues.
"This is not a dispute between us and the public. This dispute is between us and the airport authority, and the company," said Unifor National Representative Harry Ghadban.
"If we could, we'd still be picking up all passengers at the airport while we settle this matter."
To get the free ride, go through the Arrivals door to the airport's regular taxi stand, and look for the locked out members of Local 1688 on the median across the road. The union members will summon a taxi for elderly passengers and families with children.
Members of Local 1688, working for Coventry Connections and serving the airport, stopped paying their dispatch fees as of August 1, but continued to pick up riders at the airport. On Tuesday, as the fees came due, the airport authority disabled transponders used by drivers to open gates to the airport, locking out any drivers who refused to pay the fee.
The local today offered to continue picking up passengers at the airport, but the airport authority refused. That's when the union decided to offer the free rides.
Ghadban said that while the union is negotiating with Coventry, the real dispute is with the airport authority, which is demanding a fivefold increase in the dispatch fees.
"The airport authority wants a huge amount of money, and the company agreed to that without talking to us first," Ghadban said.
Those fees would have to be passed on to passengers - a concern for an industry already facing several challenges, including illegal taxi services, Ghadban said.
"It's not the drivers who are preventing passengers from getting a taxi, it's the airport authority and Coventry Connections," he said.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 members, including more than 2,500 in the Ontario taxi industry. It was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.
For further information:
please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at [email protected] or (cell) 647-385-4054.