Toronto taxi drivers considering strike to protest Uber, UberX

Taxi drivers in Toronto and the GTA are considering a strike in order to draw attention to the alleged decline in business they blame on "blackmarket" ride-hailing services like UberX.

Job action would not happen for several weeks

Toronto taxi drivers are considering holding an industry-wide strike to protest a perceived lack of enforcement against unregulated services like Uber and UberX. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Taxi drivers in Toronto and the GTA are considering a strike to draw attention to what they say is a decline in business due to "blackmarket" ride-hailing services like UberX.

The president of iTaxi Workers Association said that those in the industry have seen their salaries cut in half in the past year thanks to competition from the unregulated ride-hailing services.

"We've been knocking at the door of different levels [of government] for almost a year," Sajid Mughal said. "And nobody's stopping this illegal activity."

Although there have been numerous debates at city hall about regulating Uber and UberX, there's still tension on the roads, because the ride-hailing services are still flouting city bylaws.

Last month, council asked city staff to develop new rules to accommodate Uber in its taxi and limousine bylaws, with an added request that Uber cease operations until those rules are established.

Uber has ignored that request.

Mughal's association represents about 500 employees in the taxi industry.

And he says they have been responsive to the changes implemented by Toronto city council to make the industry more competitive, including the recent drop in base fares by $1.

The Uber effect

But no one has cracked down on Uber and UberX.

Toronto taxi firm Beck said that while it understands the frustrations of competing with what it calls "blackmarket taxi operators," holding a strike will not solve their problems.

"As such, we call on city hall to move on enforcement, which is needed to stop UberX and the frustrations it is creating," Beck's operations manager, Kristine Hubbard said in a statement

Mughal said there's no guarantee that Toronto-area taxi drivers will go on strike, saying it depends on the outcome of a meeting that will be held Wednesday or Thursday.

Even then, drivers would likely not stop working until December, Mughal said.

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