Cosatu says the taxi industry has suffered serious neglect from the government over the years despite it being a big contributor to the economy.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says taxi associations were right for calling on the government to subsidise its industry as it does for busses and trains after it was reported that some associations will increase taxi fares.
“Cosatu is alarmed by the decision taken by the various taxi associations to implement a 172% fare increases in the province of Gauteng following the failure by government to honour the commitment made to them over the lockdown relief fund,” it said in a statement.
The federation said similar fare increases have been reported by workers in the Western Cape and other provinces.
“While we understand and sympathise with the taxi operators, the decision to increase taxi fares will hurt people who have no dog in this hunt, workers,” it said.
Cosatu claimed the taxi industry had suffered serious neglect from the government over the years despite it being a big contributor to the economy.
“Government needs to help the taxi industry during this lockdown period because we expect them to comply with the protocols and regulations that protect passengers from Covid-19 infection.
“But also, the government needs to prioritise regulation and should use this opportunity to properly subsidise and regulate the industry.
“Taxi drivers should have been part of the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) and the fact that their employers do not pay the minimum wage and do not contribute to the fund is a problem,” the federation continued.
However, the federation said it was critical that the taxi industry be formalised and becomes compliant with all laws of South Africa
“These include ensuring that taxi owners pay Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (Coida). Taxi drivers, guards and queue marshals must be paid the minimum wage, and be afforded all the labour rights workers are entitled to by law like paid leave, a 48-hour working week for example.
“The taxi industry is right in calling for the government to subsidise this industry as it does for busses and trains. This is more pertinent as most workers use taxis to get to work. However, it cannot be a blank cheque; in exchange we expect the industry to cease being a sector better known for lawlessness and hooliganism,” Cosatu added.
Cosatu further condemned the driving behaviour of taxi drivers on the roads.
“Something drastic needs to be done to improve the safety of the taxi industry and ensure that drivers refrain from the habit of breaking the rules of the road. Taxi fares also fluctuate with the price of fuel and they need to be properly regulated.
“It is also troubling that the industry has one of the highest rates of sexual harassment reported from taxi drivers as well as high rates of traffic crimes committed,” it said.
The federation said it would be asking for a meeting with Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula and other stakeholders to help intervene and find a workable and sustainable solution that will ensure workers were not victimised in the process.
Source: The Citizen