Canadian USWA Local 1014 Taxi union renews call for safety measures after 'brutal' attack on driver

Canadian USWA Local 1014 Taxi union renews call for safety measures after 'brutal' attack on driver

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ALEX MACPHERSON, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
Published on: October 19, 2017 | Last Updated: October 19, 2017 6:00 AM CST
The union representing Saskatoon’s taxi drivers called on city council to reopen a debate on driver safety after a “brutal” attack by a passenger left a cabbie with severe bruising to the face over the weekend.

“With three recent, serious incidents against drivers, the time to act is now,” United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1014 president Malik Draz said in a statement, referring to the beating late Friday night and two unrelated incidents in March.

“We must work together to legislate protective equipment and ensure that the violent perpetrators are held criminally accountable for these assaults.”

The latest attack happened around 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 13 after a Comfort Cabs driver picked up a man and two women on 22nd Street and they started fighting and “becoming belligerent,” according to Saskatoon police spokeswoman Julie Clark.

The driver, whose name was not released, told the passengers to get out of the vehicle but they refused, Clark said in an email. At that point, the driver and a 20-year-old man stepped out of the vehicle and “a physical altercation” ensued, Clark wrote.

The suspect fled but was soon found, arrested and charged with assault. The remaining two passengers were arrested and subsequently released. The driver suffered “minor injuries” and was checked out by paramedics at the scene, according to Clark.

Draz’s call to re-open the debate comes months after city administrators, in response to a request from USW Local 2014, said safety shields designed to separate drivers from passengers should be optional because taxis already have sufficient safety equipment.

The union subsequently requested council’s standing committee on transportation consider the installation of flashing amber lights on taxis, which can be used to signal an emergency. The committee referred the request to administrators.

“These assaults are not isolated incidents and these three attacks are just the ones that were reported,” USW staff representative Mike Pulak said. “Many drivers face verbal and physical assaults. City hall needs to take action to improve their working conditions now.”

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