Taxi-drivers vote to strike until at least tomorrow when talks resume


Taxi-drivers have voted overwhelmingly against the motion to return to work proposed by their union representatives at the weekend. Seventy per cent of those balloted on Saturday voted to continue strike action until tomorrow at the earliest, when talks with Government officials are expected to resume.

The taxi unions' High Court hearing applying for leave for a judicial review of the decision to deregulate the industry also begins tomorrow. The unions hope a victory would enable drivers to return to work in the interim.

About 2,200 members of the National Taxi Drivers Union and the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation and more than 400 members of SIPTU voted in the weekend ballot.

Mr John Ussher of the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation said drivers had left union leaders in no doubt about their views. "They are just as angry today as they were the first day," he said.

Mr Vincent Kearns, vice-president of the National Taxi Drivers Union, yesterday said the situation had turned "very nasty" and into a standoff with the Government. "The main sway against it [the motion] for the drivers was the fact that they have little or no faith in Bobby Molloy to engage in meaningful talks." Mr Kearns said taxi-drivers had no objection to extra licences but wished to see a regulatory body established to oversee the process.

Meanwhile, more than 800 people have paid fees for new licences from Dublin Corporation. Just 55 applications were for £100 licences for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. A total of 3,000 application forms have been requested.

"We expect to begin receiving completed applications and to start issuing licences within the week," a Dublin Corporation spokeswoman said last night.

It is understood about 150 certificates guaranteeing a vehicle's roadworthiness have been signed at the Garda Carriage Office. An average of 30 vehicle inspections are being completed every day. For a completed application, a person must pay the fee and secure a public service vehicle licence and certificate of roadworthiness.

The taxi unions yesterday argued a majority of the applicants for the new licences were already "cozying" on an existing plate. "They might be ready to roll but they are our members and they won't be working until this dispute is over," said Mr Kearns.