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Dublin taxi drivers 'working 10-12 hours for less than €50 or €60'

A number of taxi groups protested outside Leinster House today.

Today's protest outside Leinster House.
Today's protest outside Leinster House.
Image: TheJournal.ie

TAXI DRIVERS STAGED another protest outside the Dáil today, claiming that the industry has been “devastated” and that they are not being supported. 

The protest follows another demonstration from last month when drivers made their way from Dublin’s Phoenix Park to Leinster House.

Today’s demonstration was scaled down due to Covid-19 restrictions, with a number of different taxi groups taking part. 

President of the Irish Taxi Drivers’ Federation Joe Herron said that drivers are dealing with an 80% fall in business. He said that those on ranks in Dublin city can be waiting for three hours for a fare. 

“That’s typical of the way things are all around the city. And probably in most of the suburban ranks there’s even less work around. What we need really is support for drivers whether they work or not, because depression is setting in with an awful lot of drivers,” he said. 

Herron said that the industry has unfortunately had to deal with the deaths of drivers due to suicide in the past and that this is a real concern. 

“We would hate to see obviously that type of situation come in, obviously. But drivers are getting very depressed, they can’t make the repayments on mortgages and vehicles and things like that.

Also, drivers are used to being out and about, and they’re used to talking to different people all day long and going all around different places. And when you take that from them it’s very easy for depression to set in. 

Taxi driver David McGuinness said that he usually works out of the College Green rank in Dublin city centre and that the situation is becoming very desperate. 

He says that taxi drivers only have the option of going on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment but that a subsidy scheme would allow them continue to try and earn a living. 

“What we’re calling on is financial subsistence from the government, similar to the wage subsidy scheme that’s given out to larger employers, to sustain us until probably until next March or April,” he said. 

The industry has been devastated. Drivers have been left with car loans that they can’t repay, mortgages that they can’t pay, back to school costs that they can’t pay. 

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“Anecdotally, you’re hearing drivers working 10-12 hours for less than €50 or €60, and that’s without taking out your insurance costs or fuel costs. So it’s desperate out there.”

Speaking at the protest, Rise TD Paul Murphy said that taxi drivers are “amongst the sections of workers most hard hit by the coronavirus”.

“The crunch of the situation facing taxi drivers is that they’re on a PUP that has been cut and they’re faced with a binary choice of going back to work and losing all their PUP, in the context when business is down by 70%, or staying in a PUP that isn’t enough to survive,” he said.

“The basic answer is quite simple, which is to allow a version of the scheme that exists for employers, which is like a wage subsidy scheme, to allow the State pay some of people’s wages and go back to work.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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