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Toronto Cabbies Go on Hunger Strike Against Uber

The protesters feel they’ve run out of options in their fight to get the ride-sharing company to operate within the law.
Photo by Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

A small group of taxi drivers in Toronto launched a hunger strike on Tuesday to protest the city's handling of Uber, which they say continues to operate illegally.

The protesters feel they've run out of options in their fight to get the ride-sharing company to operate within the law, so they set up at Nathan Phillips Square with large signs, a tent, and sleeping pads. This, despite reported warnings from security and police that they'd be violating bylaws.


They've vowed to stay outside City Hall until the city acts to shut the company down.

Met with orders from security guards and police officers to remove their tent as it violates city bylaws, the protestors shot back with questions about why bylaws aren't being enforced against Uber, the Toronto Sun reported.

"They are here and they have no respect for the law," Ambassador taxi driver Krishna Pillai told Global, calling Uber an "international criminal gang."

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"The Mayor of the city John Tory is not listening to us. He is supporting a criminal gang, criminal activity," he said. "We have to have a license, we have to have a commercial insurance."

On September 30, city council voted for services like Uber to be covered under city by-laws — the company would be required to pay an annual fee, register as a taxi and limousine brokerage, and only use its technology to connect customers to municipally licensed taxis, excluding the popular UberX service that lets users connect with drivers using their own vehicles and charging a lower fare.

A report on how Uber should be regulated is expected in the spring of 2016. In the interim, the company has been asked to pull its drivers off roads, but has thus far refused to comply.

"I think Uber has a responsibility to the 400,000 riders who rely on us for transportation as well as the 16,000 drivers who rely on us for their income, so Uber intends to continue operating in the city of Toronto," Uber Canada's general manager Ian Black told the Toronto Star following the vote.

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Members of the industry have been calling on the City of Toronto to take Uber to court and demand an injunction, similar to the one that's been in place in Calgary since November 21.

A Calgary court issued a temporary injunction against the company last month, ordering it to cease operations until a hearing is held on December 17.

"We are concerned to hear reports of individuals beginning this strike," said a statement from Uber Canada spokesperson Susie Heath. "We continue to believe that there is room for all of us to serve the different needs of Torontonians and hope that all parties can can come together to find solutions that serve the best interests of riders and drivers.