Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Taxi Dispute

As a socialist, I am generally meant to feel solidarity with those who engage in industrial action. This is doubly so for workers who find themselves earning not much above minimum wage at times. So why do I find it so difficult to feel any sort of sympathy for taxi drivers who have started a course of industrial action over the last few days?

The initial occupation of the regulators office, while a nice stunt, had minimal impact on the general population but should have sent a clear message to the regulator and the minister. Escalating the dispute to blocking key junctions and streets at rush hour is purely going to antagonise the key constituency the taxi drivers have to keep onside - the punters who get into their vehicles and hand over cash.

This morning's news that the drivers were not servicing Dublin Airport is another attempt to bite the hand that feeds them. Imagine being a business person from the UK, flying in to Dublin for a meeting and discovering on landing that there is no way you can make the scheduled time. So you phone in to make some apologies and get the next plane back home. How is that going to aid the national recovery?

Yes, there are probably too many drivers. But for years the superly restrictive practices that were employed in the industry were a two finger sign to the public. Now after a badly managed deregulation, there is no shortage of lifts home at 2am. There has to be a middle ground somewhere, but blocking the city centre is just going to loose whatever small amount of goodwill that is left for taxi drivers with the general public.

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