The city of Toronto has managed to avert a large-scale protest conducted by taxi drivers in opposition to the Uber X ride-sharing service. Unions have made a U-turn and decided to postpone the Friday protest that would have caused huge problems at the start of the NBA All-Star Weekend, which is tipping off in Toronto today.
Authorities had been suitably worried about the idea of a protest causing problems during a massive sporting event, which is historically being held outside the United States for the first time. City mayor, John Tory, suggested that the protest would be bad for the taxi driver cause and pointed out that the NBA showpiece could be worth as much as $100 million to the city.
A meeting between taxi union representatives and councilors at City Hall proved productive, with the unions saying it was the first time they felt that the city had listened to their concerns. That could be because the councilors at the meeting, Kristyn Wong-Tam, Janet Davis and Glenn De Baeremaeker, are all siding with taxi unions in the fight against Uber.
Taxi drivers believe the UberX service, which connects passengers to freelance drivers through an app, is illegal. That is the case at the moment in Toronto, with the service unregulated, and unions want the city to either ban Uber or draw up regulations that make the situation fairer taxi operatives.
“Emotions overran us … There will be no strike for the NBA All-Star weekend,” Paul Sekhon, of the newly formed United Taxi Workers Association, said on Wednesday at Toronto city hall.
Despite calling off the protest this weekend, taxi unions were eager to point out that another will be organized if the city does not take charge of the Uber situation.
“We’re not saying we’re calling (the protest) off forever,” said Sam Moini, president of the Fleet Operators Association.
Councilor De Baeremaeker said “If you love somebody, do not let them get into an Uber taxi,” while describing UberX as illegal, unsafe, and unfair.