Quebec Must Not Give In to Uber Threats: Steelworkers

MONTREAL The Quebec government must not give in to blackmail as Uber threatens to cease operations in the province due to new regulations, the Syndicat des Métallos (United Steelworkers) union says.

“Uber’s business model is not made for Quebec,” said Wilson Jean Paul, a spokesman for the Regroupement des travailleurs autonomes Métallos (RTAM-Métallos) that represents thousands of Quebec taxi workers.

“From the beginning, we’ve been asking that Uber drivers be subject to the same rules as taxi and limousine drivers. And even though the government’s requirements for Uber were not the same, that was still too much for Uber,” Jean Paul said.

“Quebec must remain firm and not allow itself to be swayed by the tactics of this rogue multinational corporation.”

Uber announced today that it will stop operating in Quebec on Oct. 14 if the provincial government does not back down on new rules that require Uber drivers to take 35 hours of training and submit to criminal background checks by police forces.

“These requirements are just a fraction of what is required of taxi drivers. This is really the bare minimum,” Jean Paul said.

“Last Friday, the Transportation Minister gave his word on these conditions. It’s a commitment towards keeping Quebecers safe. And we’re not even talking about the unpaid taxes and numerous fines for which Uber has never been prosecuted. Everywhere it goes, Uber tries to force governments to bend to its demands and to destroy existing systems by way of unfair competition. London said 'no' last week and now it’s Quebec’s turn to stand its ground. So much the better if Uber draws its own conclusions,” he said.

If Uber does indeed leave Quebec, the province will need to deal with the damage left in its wake. Last week, the Transportation Minister recognized that the value of taxi permits was down by 38% just in the past year, with losses estimated at $332 million in less than nine months. And losses incurred not only in terms of the value of taxi permits but also in lost fares since Uber began its operations in Quebec in 2013 are likely much higher than that.

“Taxi drivers have suffered as the result of Uber’s presence here. We’ll have to pick up the pieces and repair the damage done, by providing support to the drivers and owners through the necessary modernization process,” Jean Paul said.


For further information:

Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos, 514-774-4001, ccauchy@metallos.ca

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