Vet Cab talks break down
Dave Battagello and Donald McArthur, The Windsor Star [Ontario]
Published: Saturday, April 11, 2009
Tempers are allegedly flaring on Windsor’s streets as the nine-day strike by 300 Veteran Cab drivers drags on with no talks scheduled through the Easter weekend.
Colin Cutler, who has been picking up passengers at the train station in his blue Windstar van since the strike began, filed a police report Friday, alleging a group of angry drivers vandalized his vehicle Thursday night.
Cutler claims he was sitting in his van in the parking lot of the Tim Horton’s near the station about 11:30 p.m. when several people kicked and spat on his van, bending the antenna and breaking the rear windshield wiper.
On Wednesday, Cutler alleges, a group prevented him for several minutes from leaving the depot parking lot with a train passenger bound for the downtown Hilton.
Cutler said he has been offering stranded passengers free rides as a “Good Samaritan,” but conceded he has pocketed some tip money.
“There’s lots of people looking for rides,” he said.
Gerry Farnham, president of CAW Local 195, which represents the drivers, said he had no knowledge of the alleged incidents involving Cutler or any incidents of violence involving his members.
He expressed concerns, though, about taxi drivers licensed in other municipalities who are picking up fares in Windsor — a contravention of a city bylaw stipulating they can only drop off fares in the city.
“That’s creating some problems on the line and rightfully so. The enforcement officers should be fining any taxi cab driver from outside the city picking up here in the city,” said Farnham.
“Just because we’re on strike doesn’t give cabs from other municipalities the right to come in and pick up fares.”
Talks with the company appeared to be headed in “the right direction” on Wednesday, said Farnham, but they were derailed when several multi-license plate owners for the company showed up and met in private with company executives, who emerged with an unacceptable contract offer.
“They did drop on some things, but it was not something our members would agree to,” Farnham said. “We knew that and let the employer know that we would not feel comfortable bringing it to our members.
“I was disappointed and frustrated. Things were going in one direction and a couple people show up and it went a different way in my opinion. That’s how it went into the ditch.”
Farnham described the rental rates for cabs paid by a majority of drivers as too high.
“The ridership has gone down about 25 per cent,” Farnham said.
“We need rates that reflect we are in a recession, that ridership is down and our members can earn an income to raise a family.”
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