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Two cabbies received letters saying legal action against them would be dropped if drivers accepted an offer on a new collective agreement.

Locked out Capital Taxi drivers walk the picket line outside the Coventry Connections office on Sept. 10, 2015.

JOE LOFARO/METRO

Locked out Capital Taxi drivers walk the picket line outside the Coventry Connections office on Sept. 10, 2015.

Two Capital Taxi drivers who were threatened with cease-and-desist letters last week are being told the threat of legal action will be dropped if the cabbies accept the terms of a collective agreement they vehemently opposed.

The lawyer for Coventry Connections, Ottawa’s largest taxi operator, sent the two drivers the letters last week alleging they made defamatory remarks about the company, its owners, and senior management.

The letter, dated Sept. 15 and addressed to driver Ahmed Mastoor, alleged he said Coventry Connections is run by or has connections with “the Mafia or other criminal organizations.”

It also alleged Mastoor said Coventry Connections heads Hanif Patni, Marc Andre Way, and their company “is engaged in fraudulent activities.”

Mastoor denies the allegations.

Two days later, Sebastien Huard, a lawyer from the firm Emond Harnden LLP, legal counsel for Coventry Connections, wrote to Harry Ghadban, the Eastern Ontario director for the taxi union, Unifor.

The letter appears to be an attempt to put an end to the ongoing labour dispute.

“Subject to the members of the Capital Taxi unit ratifying my client’s offer of today’s date, my client agrees that it will not discipline drivers who may have engaged in misconduct on the picket lines (or activities related thereto) during the course of the current labour dispute,” wrote Huard.

The letter goes on to say, “My client reserves its right to pursue legal action against the aforementioned drivers in the event that my client’s offer of today’s date is not ratified by the members of the Capital Taxi unit.”

Patni, who is president of Coventry Connections, said he was heading into a meeting and could not do an interview with Metro.

In a phone interview Monday, Way, who is vice-president of the taxi operator, claimed the original cease-and-desist letters came to the company from either Unifor, the negotiating group, or the Capital Taxi leadership, and not from Coventry Connections. “One of those three made the request,” he said, before adding that he could not comment further.

“There’s absolutely no way that would have happened,” said Ghadban, when reached for comment.

“It wouldn’t come from Unifor, it came from Coventry Connections. The two drivers gave me a copy and I shipped them off to my legal department to respond to.”

Ghadban said the union’s legal team is still reviewing the letter before it advises the two drivers on how to proceed.

He said the allegations are too vague and they need to be more specific before the accused can take any action.

“If he’s talking to a couple of his buddies, and how they’re chatting along the picket line, I think that’s different than if he made that statement to a newspaper,” he said.

When asked if Coventry Connections would sue the drivers, the company’s vice-president declined to comment.

On Sunday, the membership rejected the latest offer in a 115-98 vote.

The offer included a new reduction in stand rent fees, among other terms, under a three-year agreement, according to the vice-chairman of Capital Taxi’s union, Mohamud Hassan.

“It wasn’t really a new agreement. It’s something we already rejected three times,” said Hassan.

Capital Taxi drivers don’t want a three-year contract because they know the city is conducting a review of the taxi bylaw since they emergence of Uber in Ottawa. They feel locking themselves into a three-year agreement is a bad gamble.

ORIGINAL POST: Legal action against two Ottawa cabbies tied to taxi deal

 

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