x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Regulator quells taxi dispute

A protest by about 200 hundred taxi drivers against their company's daily revenue target comes to an end.

Taxi drivers from Q Link company gather in their parking place to protest for better working conditions.
Taxi drivers from Q Link company gather in their parking place to protest for better working conditions.

ABU DHABI // A protest by about 200 taxi drivers against new revenue targets dispersed after four hours yesterday when the taxi regulator intervened and their employer, Q Link Transport, apparently promised to scrap the plan. The drivers gathered at 9am in a car park across from Q Link's offices on Mohammed bin Khalifa Street, near the International School of Choueifat, to force a meeting with the management. The previous day the company had imposed a daily revenue target of Dh450 (US$123). The drivers said they had been making about Dh300 a day, most working shifts of 12 hours or longer, and would struggle to make the new target. "This is impossible for us," said one driver from Bangladesh. Another said he could work 19 hours and still not meet the target. All the drivers asked for their names to be withheld. In addition to opposing the daily targets, the drivers had a list of complaints that they shared with senior inspectors from TransAD, the emirate's taxi regulator, who visited the protest. These included having to hand over their earnings by 12.30pm, which they said did not suit their schedules, and what they called cramped and inadequate accommodation in Khalifa City B. "There is no cleaner, no washing machine," said one driver. "There is one washroom for maybe 20 ­persons." Another gripe concerned how their company handled accidents. Drivers said they sometimes had to wait for weeks for a damaged car to be repaired, even when they were not at fault. Previously, the drivers had a minimum monthly target of Dh4,000, for which they received a basic salary of Dh800. Above Dh4,000, they earned a 25 per cent commission, rising to 30 per cent on revenues exceeding Dh8,000, and 35 per cent above Dh12, 000. Huda al Kabbi, senior communications director for TransAD, said Q Link managers had been told they were wrong to change the terms without approval from her organisation. She said TransAD would investigate other complaints made by drivers and try to find a solution to "satisfy both the company and the drivers". A man identified by the drivers as the manager of the firm held a meeting with the protesters in the shade of a tree in the car park. He would not give his name and declined an interview, but said: "What's happening is, it's always a problem between drivers and the management inside the companies. So we sort out the problem." The drivers said he had told them the daily target would be removed and they would have more time to hand in their money. In February drivers from Tawasul, another of the emirate's seven taxi franchise-holders, launched a similar protest at the offices of TransAD after the company raised their daily rental fees for a taxi from Dh225 to Dh300 and increased monthly revenue targets as well. Again, TransAD intervened and made Tawasul return to its previous scheme. mchung@thenational.ae