Locked out Airport taxi drivers stage rally

OTTAWA, Aug. 17, 2015 /CNW/ - Ottawa taxi drivers serving the airport will be staging a slow-moving protest this afternoon as part of their dispute with the airport authority over fees.

"These people work 15-16 hours a day to eke out a living," said Harry Ghadban, a National Representative with Unifor, which represents the drivers.

The Members of Local 1688 began withholding their dispatch fees August 1, but continued to pick up riders at the airport. When the fees came due last week, the airport locked them out by disabling the transponders the drivers use to get into the airport.

The airport recently stepped up its actions, allowing any taxi driver in Ottawa to now pick up riders at the airport. Normally, only drivers with the designated airport fleet can pick up riders. With the airport's latest move, airport fleet drivers are now banned from the airport, but all others are allowed in.

The Airport Authority testified in Court last week that it knew that its actions would create a "turf war" - and yet continued with its course of action at the expense and inconvenience to the travelling public.

Beginning at about 3pm this afternoon, the locked out drivers will begin driving slowly around the road to and from the airport.

"We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause," Ghadban said.

"If we accept the higher fees, that cost would need to be passed on to our customers, and we don't think that's fair."

The airport authority has demanded that the dispatch fees be increased from $345 a month to $1,300. By comparison, the stand rent paid by other taxi drivers in the city is $400 to $460 per month.

Taxi drivers are already facing many challenges, including from illegal cab services, Ghadban said, stressing the drivers' dispute is with the airport authority, which is demanding the new fee, in conjunction with the cab company.

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 Stuart.Laidlaw@Unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.

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