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OTTAWA Contract negotiations broke off today between Ottawas taxi dispatchers, members of CUPE 4266, and ZipTrack, the company that operates Blue Line, Capital, Veterans and DJ Taxi. The strike deadline has been set for Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 12:01am. This will effectively shut down taxi service in Ottawa as early as New Years night.

We have had enough of being the worst paid workers in the call centre industry, says Donna Reany, Chief Steward, CUPE 4266. There are people who have been working here for 33 years and still not making $12 an hour. We deserve to be rewarded fairly for our dedication and service. ZipTracks 50 taxi dispatchers make on average $11 an hour for full-time work and $8 an hour for part-time work, and are not entitled to any benefits or workers compensation.

A strike vote next Monday is expected to show overwhelming support for a strike mandate. Were only making $3 more an hour than we were making 20 years ago. No one can survive on that, continues Reany.

CUPE 4266 is also preparing to charge ZipTrack with unfair bargaining for a number of violations in the past week that include the termination of a member of the bargaining committee without just cause.

The union representing Ottawas taxi drivers, CAW 1688, has agreed to respect CUPE 4266s picket line and forgo the use of ZipTracks dispatch services for the duration of the strike.

In support and preparation for the taxi dispatcher strike, CUPE 4266 is asking people to utilize a volunteer ride service provided by MADDs Operation Red Nose (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). If you are under the influence of alcohol, please contact
771-AUTO for a safe ride to your destination.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is the largest union in the country representing over half a million workers.

For more information, please contact:

Donna Reaney, Chief Steward CUPE 4266, 613-797-9806
Andy Mele, CUPE Representative, 613-878-4444
Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications, 647-224-0662