Montreal

Quebec taxi drivers to hold emergency meeting to plan reaction to Uber deal

Montreal taxi drivers will hold a meeting today to strategize a response to the Quebec government's recent agreement with ride-hailing service Uber.

Taxi association members will vote on how to collectively express their frustration with the government

Taxi drivers have been called to meet Sunday by their union, the RTAM-Métallos. (CBC News)

Montreal taxi drivers will hold a meeting today to strategize a response to the Quebec government's recent agreement with ride-hailing service Uber.

The meeting is being held by the RTAM-Métallos union, which has been representing thousands of taxi drivers in the province. 

Benoît Jugand, a spokesperson for the union, said all tactics are being considered. These include: injunctions, class actions, striking or traffic disturbances.

But one driver said the likely outcome of the meeting is that taxi-permit owners will agree to hold a six-day work stoppage. That would mean even taxi drivers who only rent their permit wouldn't be able to offer rides. 

"They [the owner] will park the 4,000-something taxis in one place and no one will work," said Mouhcine El Meliani. "It means the city will be without taxis for six days." 

Taxi drivers 'lost everything' 

The drivers are upset at a last-minute deal reached in the early hours of Thursday morning between Quebec and Uber. It will allow Uber to continue to operate as a pilot project in the province. 

Mouhcine El Meliani is a taxi driver who said the industry is upset the provincial government agreed to permits for Uber drivers. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)
As part of the deal, the ride-hailing service will pay the government for every ride one of its drivers offers. Its drivers must also have a taxi-driver license (also known as a Class 4C license) and will only be able to offer rides through the UberX function app.

El Meliani said the deal means taxi drivers have "lost everything." 

He said taxi drivers don't feel like the deal struck by the provincial government represents the taxi industry's needs.

"The government is supposed to be the lawyer," El Meliani said. "But he made the deal for himself, he didn't care about us."

The deal will negatively impact the value of existing taxi permits, he added, because the government effectively created a new tier of permits to allow Uber to operate. 

with files from The Canadian Press and CBC's Antoni Nerestant

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