Airport taxi drivers shut down Airport Parkway twice in one day
Ottawa airport taxi drivers shut down the Airport Parkway twice on Tuesday, sitting down in the middle of the road, waving banners and signs and walking along the parkway in protest.
The first shut down came around 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, while the second one got underway around 3:30 p.m. just a few hours after the first protest closed the Parkway at Uplands Dr.
On both occasions, the Ottawa International Airport tweeted out a request for drivers to avoid the Airport Parkway and use alternate routes to get to the airport.
Abed Madi, president of the airport unit for Unifor, Local 1688, said the protests were not planned, but happened out of driver’s frustration.
“Their kids want to go back to school with new school supplies, new clothes, you know how kids are and they’re just frustrated so they wanted to take this step and escalate the action,” said Madi.
This is the beginning of the fifth week of labour disputes between airport cab drivers and Coventry Connections, their dispatcher.
Police are keeping an eye on the protest, but say they cannot lay charges because the drivers are not actually breaking any laws.
““This one is a demonstration that they have a right to have under the charter of rights and freedoms,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Kennedy about this morning’s protest. “We are going to honour (that) and we will determine later on if there is a violation whether or not there is some action that will need to happen.”
Tensions seemed to escalate Tuesday afternoon when a video surfaced on YouTube, appearing to show protesting drivers attacking a Blueline taxi cab.
Police say they are aware of reports of vandalism and officers are investigating.
“There has been some incidents reported to the police and they are under investigation, if criminal charges are warranted, they will be laid,” said Acting Inspector Carl Cartright.