Saskatoon taxi drivers

Nasir Bhatti drove a cab in Saskatoon for seven years before Comfort Cab took his taxi license away in January. (David Shield/CBC)

A group of Saskatoon taxi drivers say they were fired because they wanted to start a union. The group says it's hard to make a living under current rules.

Nasir Bhatti drove a cab in Saskatoon for seven years. In January, his employer, Comfort Cab took away his taxi licence. Bhatti said he was later told he wouldn't be able to drive for the company at all.

"They accused me of making a union," Bhatti said. "Secondly, they told me I was yapping outside and talking too much about the increase in the lease."

Bhatti and three other Comfort Cab drivers said they wanted a union because it's becoming more difficult to make a living as a driver.

Most taxi drivers lease their cabs and licences from owners, because the cost of buying them is prohibitive. 

According to Bhatti, Comfort Cab has been slowly increasing the fees it charges drivers. 

"The drivers who were driving with me, they were driving seven days a week, every day, up to 12 hours to make their living," he said. "I think it's too much."

Mike Pulak, staff representative for United Steelworkers, was helping the drivers to set up a union. Pulak said the cab companies have the upper hand. 

"As soon as the company has told them if they sign cards, they're going to be terminated," Pulak said. "So when you have that, your whole livelihood is around that, your whole family's income is around that, and so we have a tremendous amount of fear going on."

The drivers have taken their case to the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board. Comfort Cab said it won't comment while the case is before the Board.

In the meantime, Bhatti is making a living doing odd jobs and waiting to hear if he will be able to drive a cab again.