TORONTO, Jan. 23, 2014 /CNW/ - Over 500 taxi drivers are speaking to a City committee today in support of staff's proposal to transfer taxi ownership to drivers only. This will end the practice of absentee licence owners who rent their cabs through middlemen and brokers.
Drivers say the licensing change will improve customer service and put money back in the local economy, and that there is no reason to wait. They are calling for the switch to happen within the next five years.
"The drivers have a direct interest in great customer service. But many taxi licence owners don't drive. They rent their licence to a bunch of middlemen who take money out of our pockets," says Sajid Mughal, President of iTaxiworkers Association.
"If drivers own their cabs, they will have more money to take home to their family and spend in their community, and service will get better."
City staff recommend a switch to a single owner/operator taxi licence, but currently impose a five-year delay in implementation, with a further indefinite delay until standard licence owners sell their licences for the transition to happen.
"That means the transfer could take 40 years or more, and that is too long," says Jahangir Sartaj, one of the organizers in the drivers' community.
"We've got over 2,000 drivers' signatures on a petition saying they need this industry to change now. Many of them are working 12-hour days, six days a week, and once they pay all the fees to these middlemen, they make less than minimum wage," Sartaj says.
"Overwhelmingly, shift drivers are here to call on city council to ensure that the new owner/driver licence is fully in place within five years and that the middlemen will be gone from our industry," says Ali Tabrez Chaudhrey, another organizer among drivers.
Toronto's Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee, responsible for making recommendations to city council, will begin meeting at 9:30 a.m. in council chambers at City Hall.
Over 500 deputants are registered to speak. Taxi drivers are gathering in the City Hall Rotunda between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Spokespeople will be making a brief statement for media in the Rotunda at 9:00 a.m.
SOURCE: iTAXIWORKERS Association
For further information: Katrina Miller, 647-272-5024, [email protected]