Taxi drivers vote to suspend strike
By Clare Murphy
Taxis are likely to be back on the streets of Dublin this evening following a High Court ruling allowing a judicial review of the Government's decision to deregulate the industry.
An estimated 65 per cent of members of the National Taxi Drivers' Union and the Irish Taxi Drivers' Federation voted to suspend their strike action from 7 p.m. this evening, with 35 per cent voting against. Drivers in Cork and Galway have also voted to return to work. Drivers in Limerick restored services there at lunchtime yesterday.
There were some angry exchanges between taxi drivers when the Dublin result was announced at the Erin's Isle GAA Club in Finglas, with shouts of "fix" and "shambles".
The precise ballot results were not released, but it was estimated that about 2,000 drivers had voted. Around 500 members of SIPTU are due to ballot on a return to work at 10 a.m. today. NTDU and ITDF drivers are not returning until the evening as a "mark of respect" for the SIPTU ballot, union officials said yesterday.
Earlier, the High Court ruled that representatives of the NTDU could challenge the Government's decision to deregulate the industry. The full hearing will begin on December 19th. Preliminary talks between taxi leaders and Government officials were held yesterday and are due to resume this evening.
Mr Vincent Kearns, vice-president of the NTDU, last night said he believed that the taxi drivers who had voted against the proposal would honour the result. However, he added: "It's an individual choice and we have to respect the right of an individual to make that choice."
Mr John Ussher, of the ITDF, commented: "This isn't over yet. This strike has been suspended to allow us to go into negotiations with the Department of the Environment."
It is believed that the possibility of an 11 per cent fare increase before Christmas is central to the talks with Department officials.