Dublin City Council has agreed to an 11% fare hike for taxis in the capital — however, they have axed a £1.60 luggage handling charge. National Taxi Drivers’ Union vice-president Vinny Kearns predicted up to 95% of drivers will vote in favour of strike when a ballot is held nationwide over the next two weeks.

He believes drivers outside the capital will come out in solidarity with Dublin cabbies. Taxi drivers in Dublin say the axing of the luggage charge will result in a net decrease in many fares.

This comes just six months after drivers went on strike over plans to deregulate the industry. That sustained period of industrial action led to violent scenes outside the Dáil as well as a temporary blockade at Dublin Airport.

Mr Kearns said there was anger among taxi drivers.

“I think it’s a disgrace. Here we have drivers lagging well behind the rest of the country yet we can’t get a proper fare increase. This wouldn’t happen in a banana republic,” he said.

The NTDU and the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation, which between them represent around 80% of taxi drivers, will be advising members to vote in favour of a strike.

The fare increase must be approved by Dublin’s four local authorities. It has already been sanctioned by three — Dublin Corporation, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and South Dublin — while Fingal County Council has deferred a vote until its next meeting in July.

The NTDU says rising inflation and increased competition due to deregulation are the reasons for the proposed fare increase.

But Dublin city councillors, who voted in favour of the changes, defended their action by insisting it will lead to a fairer deal for customers.

Labour’s Cllr Dermot Lacey said it was vital that charges be more transparent and sought to calm drivers’ fears by saying key conditions, such as working hours, would be reviewed by a committee.

But angry drivers who gathered outside Dublin City Hall warned the changes would affect their livelihoods.

Liam Whelan, 49, from Tallaght, said he was shocked by the decision: “This is going to cost us money. It’s criminal. We’re already coping with an insurance hike of 32% over the last year and over the last 15 years we have only got a 1% fare increase.”

John Brady, 43, from Tallaght, said: “I’m in favour of bringing about a change in fair structures but this isn’t fair for anyone.

“We need proper increases, which mean real changes for drivers’ livelihoods.”