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Monday, September 20, 2021

Al Million drivers back to work, but unhappy with rental fee reduction

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With reporting from Ankita Menon

A four-day strike of several Al Million taxi drivers has ended, but many of the men who have returned to work are expressing dissatisfaction with the outcome.

During the strike, which took place from Saturday to Tuesday, several drivers refused to report to work, demanding that management reduce the daily rental fees they pay for their taxis.

Employees who used the cabs for 12 hours had to pay QR235, and those who used them for 24 hours paid QR300. The drivers had asked that the fee be cut to QR200 and QR250 – or less for drivers who pay for their own petrol.

In response, management decreased the daily rental fees by QR15, the Peninsula reports, citing Al Million’s director of human resources.

The 6.5 or 5 percent cut, depending on the shifts, was enough to bring many employees back to work on Wednesday, and a driver told Doha News that all staff reported to work today.

But several drivers of the maroon-roofed cabs are unhappy with the decrease, saying it is simply too small. Speaking to Doha News, a 27-year-old Sri Lankan driver who has been with Al Million since the Karwa franchise for one and a half years, said:

“(I am) not happy. We are asking for 200, and they reduced only to 220. I don’t think there will be any reduction again.”

The expat added that yesterday, he made about QR30, after factoring in the cost of renting his cab for 12 hours. On average, he makes some QR1,500 a month, but business has been slow for the past two months, due to competition with private taxis, he added.

It is not clear whether any drivers were fired over the strike action, which is prohibited by Qatar’s labor law. An Al Million official was not available for comment.

Quality affected

Launched in the summer of 2012, Al Million now has about 650 taxis and employs around 1,000 drivers. It is one of two taxi franchises rolled out by transportation regulator Mowasalat, in response to complaints about a lack of cabs on the road.

Residents of Qatar have long complained about the service quality of taxis here, saying that drivers frequently overcharge them or refuse to accept customers if the trip is too short or in a congested area.

Speaking to Doha News, a 25-year-old Kenyan driver who has been working for Al Million over the past eight months said drivers only employ such tactics when it becomes difficult to make ends meet.

But customers only complain and get angry, he said. “They don’t understand the situation.”

Several of the drivers who were interviewed added that if the circumstances don’t change, they plan to leave Doha once their contracts are up.

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