ABU DHABI // Striking taxi drivers were due to meet last night after seven of them were summoned to court and then sacked in front of a judge.
Their employer, Tawasul, has been accused of trying to intimidate other drivers back to work by firing the men.
The drivers are refusing to sign new contracts they claim would dramatically cut their income. On Monday, they were told they would have a chance to put their case at the labour court yesterday. When they arrived, the judge asked them if they wanted to file a case. Knowing that to do this they would have to pay a fee, they declined, as it would be beyond their means.
"I can't afford to file a case," said Rehmat Nawaz, from Pakistan. "I know the result of cases [against Tawasul], many who filed it returned home after months of starvation."
With no case filed, PRO Khaled, a Tawasul manager, handed the seven drivers - including at least four Pakistanis, one Egyptian and one Nepalese - their notice, giving them 25 days to find another job or leave the country. The seven accused the company of making scapegoats of them to intimidate other drivers back to work.
"The general manager [of Tawasul] wants to show the workers that they are helpless," said Amjad Ali, one of the sacked Pakistanis.
A Ministry of Labour official said all but 200 of the drivers had now signed the new contracts which, say drivers, will cut their earnings by Dh700, to Dh2,100 a month, for every Dh10,000 they make in fares.