|Union calls for taxi fare link to average wage rise
Irish Independent 25 august
2001 Caroline Crawford
A NEW "fairer formula" to link taxi fares to annual average wage increases has been demanded by cab drivers.
The country's largest union SIPTU said the proposed system would maintain drivers' standard of living and allow them to invest in their business.
Jerry Brennan, secretary of the SIPTU Dublin taxi drivers' branch, said the current "ad hoc" system of fare setting was causing an increasing number of qualified workers to leave the industry.
He said: "The decision to give an increase in taxi fares is up to the councilors
in each area. Unfortunately in this business, unlike other areas of industry, there hasn't been negotiation.
Councilors are fearful of making a decision that will be seen as unpopular by the public. I believe that fear is unfounded."
Since 1985, there have been just three wage increases in the taxi industry, he said.
SIPTU is now calling on the Dublin local authorities to increase taxi drivers' wages in line with industrial wage increases in a move which would put drivers here on a par with London cabbies.
Mr Brennan said: "Taxi drivers could tell you about the Celtic Tiger, they've been scarred by it."
He added that in the past six years, the average industrial wage in Dublin has increased by 139pc whereas taxi drivers' incomes have gone up by only 20pc.
He said: "In fairness to the public, I don't think that there would be any big problem if taxi drivers got the same average industrial wage increase as everyone else.
But at the moment it seems political will has to be satisfied."
Costs of maintaining their business must also be taken into account by the councillors, said Mr Brennan.
Another major worry for the industry is the number of experienced drivers leaving as they can no longer compete economically with the huge number of part-time drivers coming in since the Government introduced deregulation last year.
"We are not looking for a reversal of deregulation, but there are questions about the ability of people coming into the business," added Mr Brennan.
SIPTU has already submitted their proposals on a revised fare structure to Dublin Corporation.