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Face-off continues; more taxi drivers join protest.

Summary: Over 2000 taxi drivers from the five franchise companies operative in Sharjah protested near the Ministry of Labour office on Tuesday against a new deduction from their revenues.

On Monday, the taxi firms - Sharjah, Union, City, Advantage and Emirates - started deducting 52 fils from every cabbie against each kilometre they drive with the meter on, apart from daily targets. It was hard to see any of the 4,860 operative cabs on Sharjah roads on Tuesday as the angry drivers refused to work and crowded at the parking facility of the Ministry of Labour to oppose the new rule. The Sharjah Police cordoned the area and dispersed the protesting cabbies who said they would be back again at the labour office today. A"The police asked us to return the vehicles to our companies and then come back to lodge a collective complaint if we wish,A" the drivers told Khaleej Times. The cabbies went back, but their companies refused to collect their cabs. A"I came around 1pm to hand over my daily revenue, but could not get into the company because the police did not let any cab stop there,A" a driver said. Another driver said he collected around Dh320 on Monday. A"The company deducted some Dh67 and my daily collection went down to Dh253. This means I am not entitled to the 35 per cent commission though I worked up to 16 hours.A" A"The franchise firms, through the 52 fils cut, indirectly get back more than the Dh2,000 petrol allowance given on a rechargeable card to every cabbie per month,A" said another driver. Khaleej Times quoted an official with a franchise company who said that the rule is aimed to compensate some of the losses they have incurred. A"The rule will help us recover losses after the hiked petrol prices and operation expenses.A" Echoing the same justification, an official with the Sharjah Transport said the cabbies, easily collecting Dh300 to Dh400 more every month, have become less productive and mostly do 19 instead of 21 trips a day. A"As the daily target has increased by Dh68 owing to the Dh10 minimum fare, Dh60 will be deducted while Dh8 go to cabbies,A" he said. A cabbie refuted this saying he used to do more than 30 trips to collect around Dh350 per day.C A"This has become impossible after the Dh10 minimum fare. People now find it better to walk, ride a bike or take a public bus.A" A"How can cabbies be lazier or less productive?A" Wondered another driver, adding he worked for more than 17 hours a day, yet do fewer trips because most people cannot afford taxi rides here while others resort to car pooling and even illegal taxis. Denying any increase in revenues following the Dh10 minimum fare, a cabbie said: A"I challenge any one saying that a single cabbie has collected the said extra Dh300 or 400 inC revenues. On the contrary, we work more, but do fewer trips, and hence collect less money.A"

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Nov 3, 2010
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