Update: The strike has been called off, according to the Toronto Sun
Taxi industry spokesman Sam Moini told a Wednesday afternoon news conference at which the strike was cancelled that it could still happen at a future date.
Paul Sekhon said at a press conference, “Emotions overran us …There will be no strike for the NBA All-Star weekend.”
After previously announcing a strike versus Uber was coming during the NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto, the newly formed United Taxi Workers Association of the GTA has clarified a Friday rush hour strike is coming, and that the group has permits for the protest, as told on air to CityNews’ Breakfast Television, reports The National Post.
Paul Sekhon from the UTWA says cab drivers will drive down Highway 427 to the Gardiner Expressway, turn onto Lake Shore Boulevard and then surround the Air Canada Centre, with timing for this protest perfect, as worldwide media will be on hand to witness their cause, which will shut down the city:
“There will be media here (for the game) from all over,” he says. “We will show that we are doing the right thing. We are struggling and dying. We are losing everything day by day because of theses illegals. The city is trying to push down an industry that has been serving the public since World War II.”
Sekhon says this protest will be much larger than December’s protest, with the number of drivers participating growing from 3,000, to up to 8,000, with support coming from taxis as far away as Montreal and Ottawa. He also says “We aren’t afraid of the police, should they plan to enforce.”
The group wants UberX banned in Toronto, as the ridesharing company has diminished the value of local and expensive taxi medallions.
In a revealing interview with CBC News, Sekhon admitted the goal of the protest was to shame Mayor John Tory for having “poor leadership skills”:
Matt Galloway: “But the mayor has said this won’t do anything to speed up the process to change the bylaws. So what are you going to actually achieve by doing this?”
Sekhon: “We’re going to achieve the shame of the mayor and of the poor leadership skills, we want the world to know.”
Galloway: “So this is just about making the mayor look bad. It’s not about actually achieving anything?”
Sekhon: “That’s correct. We know nothing usually comes out of demonstrations right away, but last time at Pan-Am Games [Tory] gave us a lollipop, pretty much said ‘Don’t go on strike and I’m going to come out and say UberX is illegal.’ He never said that. All he said is they are operating outside the law to confuse the Torontonians.”
However, not all taxi companies are on board with the protest. Beck Taxi’s president Gail Beck-Souter wrote a letter to their drivers urging them to skip the strike, noting it would harm the industry and actually provide Uber with support instead:
“In short, don’t do it. Some may want to convince you a protest that upsets this big event would help us get our message out. They are wrong. It would only hurt our valued customers and give Uber exactly what they want.”
Today, as part of their UberX witch hunt, Montreal taxi drivers protested at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. The taxi industry is upset UberX drivers can serve the airport, despite a $2.5 million contract taxis have with the airport’s agency that runs the facilities there.
UberX allows drivers to pick up and drop off passengers in their own private vehicles, all organized via the Uber smartphone app. Fares are lower than traditional taxis, thus undercutting them.
Folks, it’s time to grab the popcorn (you may need it if you’re stuck in this strike). This taxi fight against Uber is not going to be pretty.