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Unifor demands action on bandit taxis

TORONTO, Oct. 9, 2014 /CNW/ - Unifor National President Jerry Dias has written to the Ontario Minister of Transportation demanding immediate action to curb the spread of bandit taxi operation in the province, including those dressed as mobile apps such as Uber.

"There is a place for Uber in Ontario, there's no doubt.  But they should have to operate within the same licensing framework and with the same public health and safety rules as do other operators," Dias said in his October 8th letter to Minister Steven Del Duca.

Unifor represents nearly 2,500 people working in the Ontario taxi industry. They work in an industry governed by regulations and local bylaws designed to protect the public and ensure a stable taxi industry.

While taxi companies use a dispatcher to send one of their fleet of licensed cab drivers to those needing a ride, mobile apps such as Uber bill themselves as a rideshare services, connecting those needing a ride with independent drivers for hire. Such drivers aren't required to hold licenses, may operate vehicles not equipped with safety devices, and often bypass normal insurance requirements, among other things.

The City of Mississauga, however, has recently required that Uber get a broker's license to operate in the city. In British Columbia, the province required that Uber seek a limousine license. Uber has refused to comply.

"The fact that Uber thinks it can unilaterally exempt itself from industry rules and regulations, largely designed to protect the public, simply by calling itself a technology company is, quite frankly, absurd," Dias wrote to Del Duca.

Unifor generally supports the use of mobile technologies to enhance taxi services for customers, "while adhering to existing rules and regulations for the safe and lawful operation of a cab," wrote Dias.

Unifor is calling on the province to issue a statement denouncing the presence of bandit taxis; introduce legislation to get them off the street and to call a meeting of all stakeholders to discuss the issue.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.