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OTTAWA Moments before the clock struck twelve, taxi dispatchers, members of CUPE 4266, filed out of work and gathered at the picket line. Last minute talks broke off between the union and Coventry Connections ZipTrack as the central demands for a wage increase and a benefit plan were not met by the company. The 47 taxi dispatchers take calls for BlueLine, Capital, Veterans and DJ Taxi in Ottawa.

Before negotiations these were low-waged workers with no benefits. After negotiations, they remain low-waged workers with no benefits. This is why we are on strike, said Andy Mele, CUPE National Representative and chief negotiator. ZipTrack has given us no choice but to fight for what is fair. Mele characterized the negotiations as slow and like pulling teeth.

Its a slap in the face, said Donna Reaney, a dispatcher and Chief Steward, CUPE 4266. Reaney has been with the company for over 15 years. Weve waited a long time for a fair wage and benefit plan and cant wait any longer. Its time ZipTrack learned to respect the work that we do. The dispatchers take between 500 and 1000 calls a night.

Over 100 people brought in the New Year on the picket line outside ZipTrack offices at 455 Coventry Road. BlueLine and Capital Taxi cabs lined both sides of the street in support of the dispatchers and were greeted with load cheers as they pulled in. Families brought their children and together they braved the cold in support of this fight for a fair contract.

The taxi dispatchers make on average $9 an hour and have no benefit plan. A leaflet distributed on the picket line urges supporters not to call a cab, but to flag them down or use alternate means of transportation for the duration of the strike.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents over half a million workers.

For more information, please contact:
Donna Reaney, Chief Steward, CUPE 4266, c: (613)797-9806

Andy Mele, CUPE National Representative, c: (613)878-4444

Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications, c: (647)224-0662