Locked-out taxi drivers disrupt traffic on Airport Pkwy.
Standing in a picket line blocking the Airport Pkwy. Bridge, a group of Ottawa cabbies shouted and blew whistles while police stood nearby to divert traffic.
In a dramatic move Tuesday morning, about 40 locked-out cabbies got out of their cabs and began blocking the bridge, the main route into Ottawa International Airport. The cabbies have been locked out by Coventry Communications over a dispute about the fees they pay to pick up passengers at the airport.
Police were on hand, directing drivers around the roadblock.
Holding up signs while sweating in the sun, the cabbies allege their employer and the airport authority are brokering a secret deal that’s breaking the spirit of collective bargaining.
“Hell no, we won’t go,” they chanted. “Greedy, greedy, Coventry!”
“We just want to make it clear we’re not going to sit by and play dead,” Unifor union rep Abed Madi told the Sun.
Last year, the total cost to get exclusive access to airport fares was $240,000 according to figures reported in the Sun. But this year, Madi says the fee has increased dramatically to about $1.2 million.
That means drivers will pay about $5 per pickup, instead of less than $2 per pickup.
Watching over the demonstration Tuesday morning, Sgt. Marty Groulx of the Ottawa Police Service said cops were present largely to keep the peace.
“As you can see it’s not impacting traffic at all,” said Groulx, indicating that Section 2(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees a right to strike.
Motorcycle cops were posted in the front and rear of the demonstration.
Asked if the situation might change from a police perspective, Groulx said: “We’ll have to see how long it lasts.”