x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Two-hour taxi strike costs some drivers their jobs

Some taxi drivers who went on strike in protest against higher fuel surcharges have been sacked.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Some of the hundreds of taxi drivers who went on strike in protest against higher fuel surcharges being introduced by the emirate's three cab companies have been sacked. The strike ended after about two hours on Sunday when management met with drivers. 

Company notice boards announced that at least three men will be fired as a result of the stoppage. Others say they will quit.

Companies are taking as much as 30 per cent of a driver's daily earnings to cover rising petrol costs, which drivers claim breaks a labour agreement and reduces take-home pay. They said they would have to work longer hours to exceed the monthly Dh8,250 in revenue needed to qualify for a 30 per cent commission instead of 25 per cent. "I will see what the company does for one week and if I don't like it, I will go," a driver for Cars Taxi said who took part in the strike but did not want to be named.

None of taxi companies could be reached for comment. The Ras al Khaimah Transport Authority (Rakta) was also unavailable. Drivers said when they met the companies yesterday they were told to resign if they did not agree with the new structure. Taxi companies are not entitled to change their contracts with drivers without formal consent from authorities, Yousef Esmaeel, the Rakta vice-chairman, said on Monday.

The deductions were introduced on Sunday, drivers said. The same day, Rakta surprised taxi passengers with an unannounced 30 per cent fare increase to Dh1.54 per kilometre from Dh1.18. The initial charge went up to Dh3 from Dh2.50. Waiting fares were doubled to Dh30 an hour. Mr Esmaeel defended the increase, saying rising fuel prices were costing taxi companies an extra Dh680,000 per month. The Rakta bus system has yet to begin service after being in the planning stages for two years.

azacharias@thenational.ae