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Striking Limo Drivers Granted Right to Continue Airport Demonstration

Posted on July 6, 2005 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

TORONTO, ONT. – An Ontario court has granted striking airport limousine drivers the right to continue their protest against the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), but said they will be barred from blocking access to the airport.

Vicky Dhillon, a representative for the drivers, said they would follow the rules and not block traffic when their protests resume. "We are happy with the court's decision," he said.

The protesters will be allowed to hand out flyers, post banners and interact with the public in designated places at Pearson Airport, including the arrival floors of all three terminals, the limousine parking lot and outside the GTAA administrative building. But they will not be able to use megaphones or impede travellers heading for their flights.

"We're going to make sure the public is safe," Dhillon said. He added that a recent blockade – which saw limousines and cabs stop traffic on major roads leading to the airport, forcing hundreds of travellers to carry their luggage and walk to the terminals – got the message across to the public, government and the media. But now the battle will be fought among the lawyers, he said. "That was a great job our members did.”

The GTAA recently won a 24-hour injunction to limit limousine drivers to picking up passengers and not block roads. The drivers didn't have time to arrange for legal representation and so were back in court to plead their side of the story.

The drivers are in a battle with the airport authority, which wants to grant 40 new airport limousine licenses to companies. The licenses, which are worth as much as $300,000 each, give drivers the right to pick up passengers at the airport.

The drivers said that the new licenses, which were proposed because of the increased number of travellers coming through the airport, are unnecessary and would hurt business. They also said that airport limousine companies are middlemen that force drivers to pay disproportionately high fees in order to use the licenses. The GTAA should, therefore, hand out licenses to the drivers individually based on seniority, they said.

Airport spokeswoman Connie Turner said that the authority was also pleased with the court's decision, adding that the protesting guidelines decided upon by the court were the same proposed to the drivers last week.

"We know that the drivers have issues with their companies," she said, adding that the GTAA will look at the fees that companies charge drivers when considering bids. But the airport authority isn't equipped to hand out licenses to individuals, she said.

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