Regina Cabs drivers at risk of losing licences if not back on road soon: union

Taxi drivers who received winter licences in Regina's distribution lottery are 'scrambling' to get on the road, or they risk losing them, according to a union representative.

Drivers 'scrambling' to get going following lottery licence distribution

The United Steelworkers union is accusing Regina Cabs of disallowing drivers who received licences from the lottery system from operating under its banner. (Google Maps)

Some drivers for Regina Cabs may be out thousands of dollars if they don't get on the road soon, according to a union representative. 

Earlier this year, the City of Regina implemented a lottery system that would see 60 per cent of its seasonal winter licences distributed directly to drivers, while the remaining licences are given to brokerages that then lease them to drivers. 

Previously, brokers would receive all of the licences, then lease them to drivers.

"[Drivers] went out, they outfitted cars at great expense, they bought cars," said Leslie McNabb, a staff representative for United Steelworkers, the union that represents Regina Cabs drivers.

Now, the union is alleging the company will not allow drivers who received licences through the lottery to operate under the Regina Cabs name.

The taxi industry has run with impunity for many years and it's time for them to be held accountable.- Steve Hunt, United Steelworkers' Western Canada director

"If they can't get their cab on the road by Oct. 30, they have to give those plates back," McNabb said, adding the union is now asking the city for an extension of the deadline.

"They're scrambling any way they can to get their cars on the road. They've already invested the money."

Privacy issue, company says

Sandy Archibald, manager of Regina Cabs, said the important issue was the privacy of drivers who received lottery licenses through the lottery.

"The [Taxi] Bylaw has changed and there's a new regulatory function that the city is off-loading onto the brokers that the brokers would have to surveil the comings and goings of those third-party operators and then supply that data to the city," Archibald said.

"We're not in favour of that."

Archibald said the company would have to keep track of info, such as the hours of the drivers and when they finished their shifts.

McNabb accused Regina Cabs of stringing along the licensed drivers, "making it harder for them to find any other place" to work.

"Our members have been mistreated, bullied and taken advantage of by the broker companies that charge fees to drivers, which in many cases means they don't even make minimum wage per hour," said Steve Hunt, the Western Canada director for the United Steelworkers, in a press release.

"The taxi industry has run with impunity for many years and it's time for them to be held accountable."

City points to other companies

Laurie Shalley, director of community services with the City of Regina, said the city is aware that some of the city's local brokers are not currently accepting new licence holders into their operations. 

"However, brokers operate independently of the city and, as such, have the ability to determine the size of their fleet in order to meet the needs of their customers," she wrote in an emailed statement. 

"The city has been advised that some of these brokers continue to accept new seasonal licence holders into their operations."

Licensed drivers have to operate with one of the taxi businesses in the city. If they are not hired by a broker by Oct. 30, the city says it has drawn alternates.

The licence would be passed on to another person, who would need to meet all of the bylaw requirements by a new deadline.

There are currently three traditional taxi brokers: Capital Cabs, Regina Cabs and Co-op Taxi.

A new business, called Swift Cabs, plans to start offering rides on Tuesday. There is also a paratransit company called Van Dee's Accessible Transit. 

With files from Alex Soloducha and Creeden Martell