By Sarah Townsend
Abu Dhabi taxi regular says drivers refuse to work ‘dual-shift system’
The head of Abu Dhabi’s taxi regulator has slammed taxi drivers for complaining about long shifts when they could help themselves by splitting shifts with colleagues.
Many UAE cab drivers complain about working up to 15 hours a day but also refuse to work under the ‘dual-shift system’, said Mohammed Al Qamzi, the general manager of the Centre for Regulation of Transport by Hire Cars (TransAD).
Under that system, one taxi is used by two drivers, each working a 12-hour shift so there is a ‘day shift-night shift’ system.
“Franchise taxi companies are having problems with their drivers as they don’t want to work under the dual-shift system,” Al Qamzi was quoted as telling The National. “We don’t understand them at all.
“If you factor in the time spent in the car wash and handover to another driver, then they don’t have to work 12 hours. Why are they complaining?”
The maximum prescribed working hours for UAE employees, including taxi drivers, is eight hours. They are also entitled to a weekly day off, Al Qamsi said. The problem is that some drivers prefer to work only during peak hours when demand for taxis is high.
Mahendra Limbu Lingden, a driver for Arabia Taxi, was quoted as saying he spends about 13 hours each day in a single-shift cab. He takes breaks of between five and 30 minutes.
“We need to meet an AED426 daily target so we need to work long hours. My friend, who normally works more than 15 hours, earned AED5,100 last month.”
Arabia Taxi is reportedly monitoring its drivers’ working hours, the newspaper said. “The car may be with the driver for 24 hours, but he may be working less than eight hours,” said the company’s general manager Meeran Raja Ibrahim.
“It’s not true they’re working 13 to 14 hours. If a driver says he works for 12 hours, he must be earning huge money – probably Dh7,000 to Dh8,000 as a commission itself. Generally, it’s difficult for them to reach Dh5,000, seeing the way they work.”
Last month, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced a review of working hours for taxi drivers following reports that they were working dangerously long hours.
Al Qamsi reportedly said: “The labour contract ensures the drivers’ rights. “If their company starts imposing something else, the driver can come and talk to us.”
“Based on records, some drivers make Dh600 to Dh700 a day, while some make Dh100,” he said. “Where is the problem now – is it with the driver or the company?”