Chaos prevails at the Sharjah labour office as about 5,000 taxi drivers from various taxi companies have assembled to register their complaints.
Protests by cabbies in the emirate entered the second day as drivers from Citi Taxi and Emirates Taxi also joined force with more than 2,500 cabs not running on Tuesday and some of them tendering their resignations.
A total of 7,000 taxis are operated by these companies.
We expect to see en masse resignation after collecting salaries, said some drivers.
Drivers from Advantage, Union, City and Emirates Taxi have gathered in front of the labour office. Police officials who are trying to control the crowd have banned other vehicles from entering the premises.
“Sharjah Police have turned up in four big vehicles. They are trying to communicate something but nothing can be heard,” said one taxi driver. “Our senior management asked us to go to the labour office asthey cannot help us solve the issue," said a driver of City Taxi. "Currently, there are more than several hundred taxis in front of the labour office," he added.
According to the latest information all City Taxi drivers have been advised to park their vehicles in Umm Al Quwain. “If this continues there will be no space for parking there. The complete area is blocked. As soon as we submit our complaint to the labour office, we will drive to Umm Al Quwain and park our vehicles,” said another driver.
Meanwhile there have also been reports that some protesting taxi drivers are throwing stones at taxis in service. “Some hundreds of taxi drivers from different companies are not participating in the protest. But the protesting drivers, we are told, are throwing stones at them,” said an Emirates Taxi driver. “Although we are protesting it is not right to attack other cars. We have reported the matter to the police,” he said.
Union Taxi drivers had stopped work on Monday in protest against the company’s decision to increase the minimum collection target. They were given a revenue target of Dh335 in order to earn 30 per cent commission, an increase of almost 22 per cent.
"More than 100 drivers had assembled in front of the company on Tuesday morning to protest against the hike. But many of them were convinced to return to work,” said an Emirates Taxi driver.
Meanwhile, about 50 drivers of Union Taxi allegedly put in their resignations on Monday. An Indian driver said: “All of them are from Pakistan. Usually we are allowed to continue working for one month after resigning. But this time their vehicles were taken back immediately. So other drivers returned to work, at least until the salaries are paid on November 10. We expect an en masse resignation on November 11.”
Speaking to 'Emirates 24|7', agitating drivers said the move to increase the target rate is totally unfair. “To earn 30 per cent commission we have to make a revenue of Dh355 instead of Dh275, which was valid until last month. Now we have to pay an additional Dh50 every day to the taxi company and that does not go into any account. This is exploitation,” said a Citi Taxi driver.
After working for almost 16-18 hourse to earn 30 per cent commission, we manage to get hardly about Dh1,500 to Dh2,000 per month, said some drivers. "And with no air tickets, leave salary or other benefits, our lives are miserable," said one cabbie.
Drivers also complained that the economic crisis and an increase in the minimum fare of a taxi ride from Dh3 to Dh10 have already driven away many customers to more cheaper public transport options. According to some drivers, police officials are present at the premises of the taxi companies to prevent any untoward incident.
City Taxi and Union Taxi belong to the same owner who owns Cars Taxi in Dubai.