• Wed. Jun 29th, 2022

Windsor taxi drivers feel pinched at pump, union looks to city for relief

ByElla E. Kidwell

Jun 9, 2022

Windsor taxi drivers say they are bearing the costs of rising petrol prices, while the union representing workers is looking to the city to help offer some relief.

Pump prices have topped $2 a liter in Windsor-Essex in recent weeks.

Driver Saleh Babekir tells CBC News he pays $30 a day in fuel for a very small car.

“It’s very hard,” he said. “The price of gasoline is a lot for all the taxi drivers, the whole fleet.”

Drivers like Babekir pay their fuel, in addition to other high fees – up to around $590 in summer and $665 in winter, per week at Vets Cab. These fees were negotiated in the collective agreement with the employer last year, before fuel prices started to skyrocket.

Those gas prices are eating away at drivers’ profits, said Emile Nabbout, president of Unifor Local 195, which represents Vets Cab drivers, who make up the majority of taxi operators in Windsor.

Gas prices have jumped in recent weeks. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

“This is an unprecedented challenge for the drivers we represent here in the City of Windsor which is creating a lot of problems, we see this as a crisis for our drivers,” said Nabbout.

“Whether [a passenger] walk in a car and take a short trip of a few miles, you will lose money.”

To help find relief for drivers, Nabbout approached the city’s deputy licensing commissioner to ask for relief for drivers.

However, Craig Robertson told the union they had to submit a joint bid, with Vets Cabs, if they wanted a rate increase.

“Meter rate increases are typically industry-initiated, so it would be the industry’s responsibility to present those costs,” Robertson said.

The current meter rate is $3.80, and rates haven’t increased in the city since 2008, Nabbout said, although in 2015 they adjusted the tax portion.

Nabbout said Vets Cab told the union it would be interested in approaching the city for a meter increase, but he said the company wanted to reopen the collective bargaining agreement so it could charge drivers even more fees. It wouldn’t help drivers facing rising fuel costs, nor does the union want to charge passengers more.

When contacted by CBC News for comment, Vets Cab declined an interview.

LISTEN | Learn more about Nabbout’s potential fare increase:

Windsor Morning10:43taxi gas

If $2 a liter gas is hurting you, imagine it’s the lifeblood of your livelihood. That’s what it’s like for taxi drivers, and they don’t see any increase in their fares. We contact the union representing most taxi drivers in Windsor.

Robertson said a rate increase would be permanent and not tied to current gasoline prices. So if the fuel decreases in the future, the rates will remain the same

The union hopes to convince Vets Cab to approach the city with them for a meter rate increase, but insists any increase should go to the drivers.