OTTAWA Ottawas taxi unions united yesterday in support of the industrys dispatchers that may be locked out or forced to strike come New Years Eve night. Taxi driving members of CAW 1688 and UFCW 1993, representing Blue Line and Capital Taxi respectively, began distributing leaflets to patrons in their cabs urging them to support the taxi dispatchers efforts to win decent wages and benefits. Ottawas 47 taxi dispatchers are represented by CUPE 4266 and are employed by ZipTrack, the company that operates BlueLine, Capital, Veterans and DJ Taxi.
The leaflet describes How the Grinch Stole Ottawas Taxi Service and asks patrons to write the President and CEO of ZipTrack, Hanif Patni and demand an end to poverty wages for taxi dispatchers. It also complains of the unjust termination of a member of the dispatchers bargaining committee. Taxi patrons are asked to be prepared in the case of a lockout or strike on New Years Eve night and offered three options for safe transport.
Taxi dispatchers have begun distributing the leaflets after their shifts throughout public areas such as malls and bus stations. They have also placed a heated trailer outside of ZipTracks office at 455 Coventry Road in preparation for anticipated labour action.
This is the first time all three unions have united like this, says Donna Reaney, Chief Steward of CUPE4266. Taxi drivers understand that this is a tough industry and it cant just be the guys on the top who are making money. ZipTrack pays their dispatchers an average of $9 an hour and does not pay them benefits.
We work hard and deserve to be paid decently. Our workloads have doubled in the past few years but we are still Ottawas working poor, continued Reaney. The dispatchers take between 500 and1000 telephone calls a day.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is the largest union in the country representing over half a million workers. The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada) are the two largest private sector unions in Canada.
Chief Steward, CUPE 4266