Taxi drivers boycott Auckland airport

JOSH MARTIN
Last updated 17:22 06/12/2013

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A dispute between Auckland International Airport and a group of taxi drivers is escalating with 120 drivers refusing to pick up passengers from the airport.

The action by members of the Auckland Taxi Federation follows the decision by President Taxis to cancel its contract with the airport, leaving 50 of its drivers in the lurch.

President Taxis, part of the association which is protesting for better working conditions, has told its drivers that from Monday they will not be allowed to pick up passengers from the airport .

But the airport denies the ceased contract is a direct result of the dispute.

Airport spokesman Simon Lambourne said the decision to cancel the contract was made at the request of President Taxis on October 17. It was not related to the recent threatened protest action by the Auckland Taxi Association.

About 120 of the 700 taxis that operate from the airport formed the Auckland Taxi Association this month to fight for better conditions for drivers at the airport, including better sun shade, water fountains and toilet access.

The airport agreed to improve facilities for drivers after the dispute escalated to protest action by drivers.

However, the airport said the association, made up of smaller taxi companies, still wanted the airport to move a rival taxi rank further from the international terminal arrivals hall.

Lambourne said the association's negotiators walked out of a meeting when they realised their demand to reduce competition was not going to succeed.

Association spokesman Manmohan Singh said the loss of the President Taxis contract meant that as from Monday night 50 drivers had in effect been sacked.

While the drivers were aware that President Taxis was in discussions with the airport to terminate its contract two months ago, they had been told no agreement was reached.

"It is unacceptable that we have only five days' notice that we are being denied pick-up rights at the airport through President Taxis," Singh said.

The airport said that to minimise any impact on the President Taxi drivers, the airport would transfer the company's operating permits to other licensed airport taxi companies if they took on the affected drivers.

A spokesman for President Taxis could not be reached for comment.

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- Fairfax Media

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