Ottawa International Airport taxi drivers and their families continue to suffer from the lock out with no solution in sight.

OTTAWA, April 5, 2016– Ottawa International Airport taxi drivers (former fleet) continue to be locked out from working at the airport by Coventry Connections Inc.

For eight months, over 270 Airport taxi drivers and their families continue to suffer from the lockout that began on August 11, 2015, which remains without a resolution in sight.  The employer, Coventry Connections, was asked to sit for mediation on December 7th, 2015.  After several days of bargaining, Coventry Connections came back and offered two unsustainable and unfair solutions.  The proposed solutions were similar to their previous offers and they continue to drag this dispute further to make it more difficult for Airport drivers.  The Airport drivers along with Unifor have made every effort to end this unjust situation.  The two offers made by Coventry Connections were:

  1. Split the Airport fleet into the Blueline and Capital taxi fleets (the main scabbing units who are members of the same local union) with many unreasonable and unacceptable conditions.
  2. Create a new fleet named “Central Taxi” for the Airport drivers with no dispatch service. This company would charge a monthly fee on top of the same drastic operating expense jump of $5.00 per airport fare, in addition to even more unreasonable and unacceptable conditions.

The Airport fleet rejected both offers unanimously on December 14th, 2015.

Following the recommendation of Unifor, the Airport drivers abandoned their bargaining unit rights and voted on December 14th unanimously to return to work under the employers working terms and conditions.  Hence, the Airport unit was to be absorbed into the Blueline fleet.  Coventry Connections is legally obligated to reinstate locked out members under section 80 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act within the Blueline fleet’s collective agreement.  Unfortunately, Coventry Connections has refused to reinstate the Airport drivers and refused to provide an alternative or even a temporary reinstatement solution.

In addition to their attempt and their good faith to resolve this dispute, the Airport unit members have halted picketing temporarily during the mediation of Dec 7th, 2015.  Meanwhile, they are waiting for the Labour board’s decision on their complaint.  This act of good faith did not deter the Airport Authority from continuing to harass Airport drivers who are merely dropping off customers at the departure terminal.  The Airport Authority also continues to refuse to drop the frivolous trespassing notices given to approximately 25 Airport drivers who were exercising their constitutional rights to protest at the time they received the trespass notices.

Currently, over 30% of Airport drivers are unemployed, while others have been struggling to overcome the financial hardship and lost incomes that are directly associated from working without a dispatcher, a radio, a dispatching App, or a private concession.  These drivers depend on street hailing and on a few low traffic SHARED city taxi stands WITH Coventry Connections employees who already have over 45 exclusive major stands for Blueline Taxi (like the lucrative: Train Station, Bus Station, Major Hotels, Canada Post, Museums, Carleton University, etc.) and over 42 exclusive major stands for Capital Taxi (like the lucrative: TD Place, Hospitals, Ottawa University, shopping centers, etc.), in addition to their takeover of our only stand, the Ottawa International Airport.  This does not include their full dispatching service, dispatching App, and the newly launched eCab service!  Moreover, our drivers are struggling while Uber’s currently illegal operations in Ottawa have taken an estimated 40% of their overall business.

Financial hardship has affected not only the drivers but also everyone of their family members as well.  Many of these unfortunate families have been unable to pay their monthly mortgage payments and other financial obligations.  This has required drastic changes to the family unit. Many parents who were unable to make ends meet required help from their teenage children who had to seek part time employment to help their family financially. This in turn, as anyone can imagine affects their children’s education and their future.  The majority of families have resorted to using credit cards (some already maxed out), and personal loans to pay for their monthly expenses, which makes it extremely difficult on every family member in the house.

Although our Airport drivers are not currently picketing at the airport arrivals terminal, we urge everyone to support us by taking alternate transportation and NOT to take BLUELINE and CAPITAL scab taxis who are constantly violating union principles and supporting the greed of Coventry Connections along with the Airport Authority by crossing our picket line.  We also would like to ask everyone, including all union members, to step in and provide support to our Airport drivers and to Unifor’s continuous efforts to resolve this dispute through whatever means they deem necessary.

Airport taxis have served the Ottawa Airport for over 4 decades but have been locked out by their employer since August 11th, 2015.  Airport taxi drivers are Unifor union members of Local 1688.  Please visit our website at YowTaxi.ca to learn more about us.

SOURCE: Locked out Ottawa International Airport Taxi Drivers.

PDF FILE: YowTaxi Press Release April 5th, 2016

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