Sharjah Taxi Drivers Protest Against New Policy
As new reports emerge of the staged protests by Sharjah Taxi Drivers, Kipp takes a closer look at some of the contentious facts surrounding the case.
November 3, 2010 4:19 by Eva Fernandes
Paying for every kilometer
Sharjah Transport told Gulf News that the policy was put in place to provide an incentive for drivers to make more trips—to meet daily targets of 29 trips a day. Since October 1, Sharjah taxis have enforced a minimum taxi rate of Dh10 to meet rising fuel prices—but a spokesman from Sharjah Transport said they noticed drivers were becoming complacent.
Blogger Alexander McNabb did the math for implications of the new policy taxi drivers. McNab blogs ‘The new regime will neatly punish them for every metre they drive without a paying passenger. Travelling 134km with a paying passenger will now cost them Dhs69.7, which means that a perfectly efficient taxi that spends not one second empty could make its driver Dhs47 per day. Driving every day for a month with no days off (which they do anyway to try and make ends meet) now means a Sharjah taxi driver could earn himself if he travelled not one metre with an empty cab the princely sum of Dhs1,410.’
Emirates 24/7 reports that 5,000 taxi drivers assembled in front of the Sharjah labour office to protest against an increase in their revenue target by 22 percent. The site also reports that 50 drivers have allegedly handed in their resignation and that some taxi drivers have been seen throwing stones at fellow drivers who aren’t observing the protests and are picking up passengers.
Callous response from management:
Emirates 24/7 also reports a more callous response from taxi management. MI Abdul Razak, Assistant General Manager of Cars Taxi Group, told Emirates 24|7 ‘Those drivers who do not want to work can return the vehicle and resign. We are not in any way responsible for their actions as we are not ill-treating them. Every driver is paid according to what he earns.’
Razak’s argues that before the minimum Dh10 charge, taxi drivers used to earn DH.1.31 a kilometer, and after the hike the drivers now earn Dh1.61 every kilometer, ‘so as far as [the taxi driver] is concerned nothing has changed.’ But Kipp is confused- a 52 fils deduction still means a loss for the driver (even with the 30 fil supposed increase).
Regardless of the reasons for protests or the number of protests, Kipp is interested to see how possibly one of the more organized labour efforts in the Emirates will play out. And what’s more, we are curious to see if the protests will have ripple effects in other sectors?
*UPDATE: As of 4th November, The National reports that “hundreds” of cab drivers have handed in their resignation, with hundreds more on strike. Though authorities are unwilling to comment on the number of drivers who have quit, one taxi driver who resigned from Citi Taxi told The National, ‘We have made our independent count and the number is now 400 from all taxi companies.’
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