Slow-drive protest threatened

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 December, 2008, 12:00am

A transport workers' union has threatened to stage a slow-drive protest against the lack of government action to curb bargaining in the taxi trade.

The threat came ahead of a meeting today between the Transport Department and 16 New Territories taxi drivers' associations.

Participants will discuss the impact of the new fare structure that came into effect last week for urban cabbies and green-taxi groups' application for a price adjustment.

The green taxis' proposal calls for a HK$2 rise in flag-fall price, and an increase in the price for each jump of the meter from a flat rate of HK$1.20 to HK$1.30 for the first 9km and HK$1 thereafter.

Motor Transport Workers General Union spokesman Chung Kin-wah said the new fares had affected the livelihood of all taxi drivers, as the government had failed to introduce legislation to ban bargaining between drivers and passengers.

'Taxi drivers are still suffering and their salaries have slumped, as drivers who offer passengers discounts are now offering bigger discounts to compete for business,' he said. 'The government should be held responsible for the mess it has created.'

The new fare structure means short trips cost more and long journeys are cheaper. The union found that urban taxi drivers' income had dropped by 30 per cent and most were only making HK$5,000 a month.

'The new fare system can only be effective in fighting against drivers who offer discounts under one important condition, and that is the government must introduce a law to stop bargaining activities between some drivers and passengers,' Mr Chung said.