Around 300 Associated Cab drivers are back at work after walking off the job Monday morning to protest the dismissal of a fellow driver and raise issues about working conditions at the Calgary airport.

Drivers say the protest started after Rupinder Gill was fired for speaking out about unsanitary toilets and limited access to drinking water.


Hundreds of taxi drivers started a spontaneous protest at Calgary's airport today. (Faiz Jamil/CBC)

Gill, who is also the president of the Calgary Cab Drivers Society, says he has now been told his job is safe.

"They will put me back on the road," he said.

Jody Moseley with the Calgary Airport Authority says portable toilets currently on site are only a temporary measure.

"I think that they're concerned a little bit about cleanliness, the availability of facilities," she said. 

"So we stepped in very quickly and got the best units that we could get out there and put them in place right away. And we are trying to complete the construction as quickly as possible to get the facilities done."

Moseley said another cab company took over airport fares from the protesting drivers during the demonstration.

Airport contract also questioned

Gill says he also wants all cab companies to be allowed to do pickups at the airport and for drivers to be able to decide whether they want to be on airport duty.

He said cab drivers are forced to wait in a queue for long periods of time to pick up airport fares, which means there are less cabs available in other areas of the city.

The Calgary Airport Authority signed a six-year contract in 2010 with Associated Cab to cover taxi service at the airport with no competition.

But Jeff Garland, general manager at Associated Cab, says the system works better under the contract.

"We don't have nowhere near as many cars up here at any given time as they did before, so the drivers don't have to wait as long to get a fare. Like before sometimes they would wait three to four hours to get one fare," he said, adding the wait is now roughly 45 minutes.

Garth Atkinson, the president and CEO of the Calgary Airport Authority, issued a statement Monday night saying they are committed to an open discussion of all issues in an effort to seek mutually-agreeable solutions.

"To this end, I have asked my staff to immediately establish a YYC taxi committee with multi-party representation," he said.

"We will use this forum to address issues and provide ongoing feedback to the driver community."

Atkinson also said they will be meeting with representatives from Associated Cab to ensure they are "aware of their responsibilities and take appropriate action where necessary."