300 Metro Taxi drivers protest hike in daily collection limit

DUBAI — Over 300 drivers of Metro Taxi yesterday walked out of work and protested outside their office in Al Ghusais against increase in their daily minimum collection amount by Dh25. They also complained of "poor maintenance" of the taxi fleet.

By Riyasbabu, Asma Ali Zain And Amira Agarib

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Published: Tue 27 Dec 2005, 10:05 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:25 PM

The drivers were persuaded to call off their protest at 1pm after police intervention. The police told the agitated workers that if they were not interested in continuing in their jobs, they must stop work and return to their office today (Tuesday) to discuss their cancellation of the visa and settlement of dues with the employers.

Although the company denied there was any major protest action, the General Manager of Metro Taxi, Abu Omar, said the problem has been resolved.

The drivers said they resorted to protest when the company announced deduction of Dh20-25 from their salaries on the ground that a new dispatch system was being installed in all taxis. Speaking to Khaleej Times, Omar said the Dubai Transportation Corporation had recently increased the monthly payments (Dh1, 500) made by Metro Taxi to the corporation by Dh500, i.e. raising it to Dh2, 000. "We have been told by DTC that a new dispatch system is being installed in all taxis, the reason why they have increased the charges. So the management decided to share the charges with the taxi drivers and asked them to pay Dh20-25 per month which would be deducted from their salary, but this was not acceptable to the drivers," he explained.

As a result, added Omar, "We asked those drivers who were interested in continuing with the work to stay with the company and pay up, while all the rest could leave. "However, a driver who has been with the company for over three years spoke on condition of anonymity that they "are fed up and tired" with the management which was "not paying heed" to their requests. Prominent among their requests was the one to carry out regular service maintenance of the cars and drawing up of rules and regulations on par with other private taxi companies in the emirate.

"We are forced to carry out maintenance of the vehicles, which is very difficult, because we have no time to spare for servicing the cars."

"The drivers are overworked, leaving no time for rest and sleep. Most of us end up working up to 24 hours daily to generate the minimum collection of Dh260 plus Dh90 for fuel".

"Generating Dh 350 daily was itself difficult, and now the additional amount of Dh25 has been fixed by the company, making it impossible for us to generate the amount even after working 24 hours," complained another driver. He said, "At the end of the month, we have no money".

"The company pays no heed to our requests and most Metro taxi drivers work under stress. Besides, the company has levied fines on every little thing such as a scratch on the car. Currently, each driver has accumulated fines up to Dh2, 500 to Dh3, 000 and there are some who have to pay up to Dh25, 000 to the company in fines."

"We cannot work under such conditions," the drivers complained, saying they want to cancel their visas and leave the country. "But, the company even refuses to let us go. Whenever we bring up this subject, they give us a deaf ear," they said. "As a result, we were forced to throw up our keys and stop work (yesterday)," the drivers said.

Police sources said there was no strike, but about 15 per cent of the drivers of the Metro taxi refused to work.

A meeting between the Metro taxi as well as its drivers and the Ministry of Labour was held yesterday, a police source said, adding that it resulted in the company agreeing to reduce the amount from Dh25 to Dh17 and both the company and the drivers sharing the increase in the cost of the charges.

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