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OTTAWA Taxi dispatchers, members of CUPE 4266, voted 100% to reject the final offer by Coventry Connections ZipTrack, the company that operates BlueLine, Capital, Veterans and DJ Taxi. The low-waged taxi dispatchers were asking for benefits, a wage increase, and the return of a member of the bargaining committee after her unjust dismissal during negotiations. None of these central demands were met in the final offer. The strike deadline is January 1st, 2004 at 12:01am.

At this point, we know we have little left to lose. We barely make enough money to pay the rent and without benefits or sick days, cannot afford to get sick. No one can survive on what we are making, says Donna Reaney, Chief Steward CUPE 4266. ZipTrack has given us no choice but to fight for what is fair.

Talks between the union and company broke down at noon yesterday after a series of union-busting concessions were introduced by ZipTrack that included mandatory medical examinations, elimination of daily and off-day overtime pay, and the exclusion of part-time workers from the bargaining unit. Discussions resumed later in the day and this morning in an effort to bring the best possible negotiated contract to the membership for their afternoon meeting and vote. The meeting ended at 4:00pm when a press conference was held to announce the rejection of ZipTracks final offer.

The company gave us an ultimatum. Take it or leave it. Were leaving it, but they know where to find us when they are ready to be reasonable and to respect the work that Ottawas taxi dispatchers do, says Andy Mele, CUPE national representative and chief negotiator for the union.

The taxi dispatchers have secured the support of Ottawas BlueLine and Capital taxi drivers represented by CAW 1688 and UFCW 1993 respectively. The drivers have publicly agreed to support the dispatchers picket-line in the case of a lock-out or strike and began distributing an information leaflet two weeks ago to taxi patrons to build support for the dispatchers plight. They will not be using the dispatch service and are urging others to find alternate transportation.

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