Unifor Press: Ottawa airport taxi drivers locked out

Ottawa airport taxi drivers locked out

OTTAWA, Aug. 11, 2015 /CNW/ – Taxi drivers serving passengers at the Ottawa Airport have been locked out, despite a commitment by the drivers to continue serving customers during their current dispute with the company.

“We had set up a job action that affected the employer, while continuing to provide a vital service to the public,” said Unifor National Representative Harry Ghadban.

“The company’s actions today are a recipe for chaos at the airport and do nothing to serve the public.”

The cabbies, members of Unifor Local 1688, have been in a legal strike position since August 1 in a dispute over dispatch fees. The airport authority is demanding that the taxi company increase the fees fivefold, which would add to the cost of taking a taxi.

“Taxi drivers are already facing enough challenges, including from illegal taxi services, without driving customers away with increased fees,” Ghadban said.

“The airport authority is the catalyst for this.”

Members of Local 1688 serving the airport stopped paying their dispatch fees as of August 1, but continued to pick up riders at the airport. Those fees came due this week. Most rides from the airport are pickups, not dispatched.

This morning, the taxi company said drivers who refuse to pay the fee can no longer pick up riders and the airport, and disabled the transponders the drivers use to open gates to the airport.

“The drivers have continued to work and serve the public, the company has chosen to lock us out,” Ghadban said.

“We look forward to returning to the bargaining table to resolve this issue to the benefit of the drivers and the public.”

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.