Sharjah cabbies feel another jolt

SHARJAH — Cabbies in Sharjah, who had been protesting against a rule of deduction from their revenues by the franchise companies, dealt another blow on Wednesday as the Ministry of Labour backed the decision of the companies.

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Published: Thu 25 Nov 2010, 11:02 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:09 PM

Earlier this month, the taxi companies in Sharjah had introduced a rule to deduct 52 fils from cabbies’ revenues against every kilometre the meter runs.

A meeting between the Labour Ministry officials in Sharjah and the representatives of the Union, Advantage, Citi and Emirate taxi companies decided to continue with the deduction rule.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, the disappointed cabbies said they were told again to take it or leave it. “Henceforth, the Labour Ministry will start settling our entitlements at 20 cabbies per day,” they said.

Many of the drivers stopped working on Wednesday and collected cancellation letters from their companies to resign. “Today’s long-awaited meeting was our last hope, particularly for the nearly 20 per cent of the striking cabbies who have recently returned to work. But our companies insist to add more burdens on us,” a driver said.

Standing in queues to collect clearance papers, some of the drivers refused to wait till Saturday as requested by their firms and insisted on an instant solution. “We will not wait any longer. We want to close this chapter right now. Why should we work 16 hours a day for free,” they asked.

To add to the gloom, some drivers warned that the cabbies in service would possibly cheat their firms and illegally make up for the loss they incurred. “Some cabbies are now on a ‘silent’ strike. They collect Dh50 instead of Dh300 per day. Some others are running their own business, resorting to sharing and making trips without turning the meter on. That means heavy loss to their companies.”

Meanwhile, other drivers said their conditions are turning from bad to worse. “We are entitled to nothing; no monthly salary, medical care, weekends, holidays or accommodation. How can we survive while being clutched by endless cuts?”

“We pay up to Dh3,000 against our visa charges, Dh275 for the uniform and Dh400 for the transport card,” a cabbie said. “My company has weirdly cut Dh400 from my salary twice for going through a training course held by Sharjah Transport,” another one said.

Detailing other cuts, some other drivers said should any cabbie get involved in a traffic accident drawing over Dh1,500 as maintenance fees, he has to pay Dh1,250 or Dh3,000 in case of the vehicle cancellation though it is fully insured.

“My company has further failed me when I sustained backbone fractures in an accident, and asked me to struggle on my own for compensation from the insurance company,” a driver said, adding that they become liable to suspension if they fall ill.

Khaleej Times tried to contact the managers of the franchise companies, but none was available for comment. The new deduction rule was earlier justified by both Sharjah Transport and the franchise firms which attributed it to the hike in petrol price and operation expenses.

Sharjah Transport, in a statement, said the relationship between cabbies and franchise companies is governed by the Labour Law. “All parties’ rights and duties are guaranteed,” it said, noting that the additional terms agreed upon between the cabbies and their companies are also applicable in view of law. “However, a cabbie is entitled to approach the Labour Ministry in case of breach of employment contract.

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