Hunger-striking drivers back at work

JOSH MARTIN
Last updated 12:53 13/12/2013
hunger strike
Dan Galvin

ON STRIKE: Auckland taxi drivers have begun a hunger strike at Auckland Airport.

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Hunger-striking taxi drivers at Auckland Airport have conceded on their core demand in a bitter dispute with the airport and are today back at work.

About 180 drivers from small taxi firms were protesting the placement of a new dedicated taxi rank, home to premium taxi companies, directly opposite the arrivals hall at the international terminal. The dedicated rank competes with the secondary free-flow rank used by smaller firms

Nine hours of deliberations resulted in Auckland International Airport management still refusing to move the dedicated rank but agreeing to implement promotional signage and an arrivals concierge to direct arriving passengers to the free-flow rank.

Richard Barker, Auckland Airport's general manager retail and commercial, and Manmohan Singh, spokesman for the Auckland Taxi Association, which groups the small companies, said they were pleased to have finally settled the issue.

The airport also agreed to allow taxi drivers to re-enter the main rank directly after they have completed a short fare trip, rather than having to wait in the queue.

The move could reduce the drivers' waiting time for their next fare by half and allow drivers a full-fare more quickly.

Singh said it was not what the group had initially wanted but he hoped the measures would improve passenger numbers, which he said had declined significantly.

"Our drivers, like any others, just want to provide for their families," he said.

Singh said no changes had been made to the fees drivers paid to access the airport, which could add up to about $210 a week.

He said international arrivals, who were not brand-conscious, were confused by the competing ranks.

"There will be steps to drive business to our rank, because the relocation of the rank had severely affected us," singh said.

"So we hope this will improve the situation."

The airport said the arrivals concierge would help solve concerns that customers were confused about where the front of the rank was and this might increase use of the inter-terminal bus so drivers did not have to give up rank spots for short trips.

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- Fairfax Media

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