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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Tensions rising among airport taxi drivers in Qatar over pay

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Frustrated with a decline in their take-home pay, several Mowasalat cab drivers at the airport staged a limited two-day strike by refusing to show up to work this week, employees told Doha News.

It’s not clear how many men took part in the job action. Other airport employees working around the taxi area at the airport today told Doha News that they had not noticed anything amiss during yesterday’s morning shift, and the drivers themselves said everyone had returned to work by today.

Over the last two weeks, several airport cab operators have told Doha News that they were promised a raise that has not materialized.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

They said they were told they’d receive a salary of QR3,000 a month – up from an effective monthly pay of QR1,200 – to compensate for lost revenue from the introduction of new fare meters.

While billed as a way to prevent drivers to overcharge customers, the new devices are also equipped with GPS that enables better tracking of cars.

This has had a significant impact on airport taxi drivers, who are only allowed to pick up fares from Hamad International.

Previously, many operators would pick up additional passengers in Doha for short trips to supplement their salaries before returning to the airport. With the new meters, drivers say they face sanctions if they don’t head straight back.

Impact on pay

Since the installation of the meters, one driver who spoke to Doha News said he’s effectively had his take-home pay cut in half.

The man, who has been in Qatar for four years and asked not to have his name or nationality published for fear of reprisals, said Mowasalat airport drivers are left with a monthly salary of QR1,200 after deductions for accommodations, water and electricity.

The airport driver said he would previously be able to make an additional QR50 a day from “extra” fares, which works out to roughly an additional QR1,200 a month.

He said airport drivers can theoretically earn more if they bring in a great deal of revenue under a commission system, but added that this rarely happens.

“It’s not possible at the airport because we’re not busy. We spend most of our time sitting there,” he said, explaining that he typically picks up two or three fares over the course of an 11-hour shift.

“Drivers just want a good salary.”

Violations crackdown

Instead of receiving a raise, some taxi operators say they are actually taking home less pay after being accused of an increasing number of traffic violations that can add up to hundreds of riyals each month.

Several cab drivers, including the one who spoke to Doha News today as well as another who was working in early January, have said drivers are facing more fines for allegedly breaking traffic rules or returning cars with scratches or dents.

He said there is no way to contest the penalties because drivers are not told of the location, date or nature of the offense, leaving them wondering if it was a parking infraction, moving violation or damage to the vehicle.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

When asked why other motorists should have sympathy for taxi operators who break the rules, the driver said a lack of rest, combined with irate passengers who pressure drivers to go faster, mean transgressions are bound to occur.

“Taxi drivers are different…there’s too much tension.”

He added he would also like to see some evidence or documentation to support the accusations.

Ultimately, the man said he would like to return home. However, he admitted that he is prevented from leaving the country until he pays off the thousands of riyals in fines he has racked up. By his calculations, he said it may take until 2020 for him to square up with his employer.

Doha News contacted a Mowasalat spokesperson last week to inquire about driver payment issues, but did not receive any response to a submitted list of questions.

Thoughts?

37 COMMENTS

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Zaheer
Zaheer
6 years ago

guess more people will go home now ..

Cerebus
Cerebus
6 years ago
Reply to  Zaheer

Imagine if the people here just up and left, got on a plane and went home. No more maids, no more drivers, no maintenance people, no construction, no tradesman, no management in many cases….just imagine that it happened, where would Qatar be then? With no one to run the oil & gas rigs, the multi-national firms that make all that work, just up and left. Sure Qatar would survive, but it would largely fall to chaos and ruin in the process. I would think that people would actually be a bit more grateful for the services that all of these people provide, and hey, maybe a bit less greed and more of a fare wage is a decent way of saying thank you.

Mobilno007
Mobilno007
6 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

that is the reason kafala system is not changed and locals know if they make a change .. @ least just put a relax on exit permit . All will definitely run away because no human would like to live as slaves .

and common man’s voices are only limited to news reports and news interviews that to in this part of the world

Saleem
Saleem
6 years ago
Reply to  Mobilno007

are you on crack?

Scarletti
Scarletti
6 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

… imagine IF these people were at liberty to ‘just up and go’ !!!!

Saleem
Saleem
6 years ago
Reply to  Scarletti

imagine if you had a working brain that prevented you from making dumb comments like the one above.

Scarletti
Scarletti
6 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

defending the indefensible ? I see little point in trading insults Saleem when you are exposing yourself

Saleem
Saleem
6 years ago
Reply to  Scarletti

Only thing I am exposing is your “Disneyland” approach and understanding of real issues.

Althani
Althani
6 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

You imagining Scarletti with a brain is really being creative, It’s hard for me to imagine that..

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

If the exit permit system isn’t in place to prevent people from going when they wish to, and without the permission of their sponsor, then what is it for?

Saleem
Saleem
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

I am not referring to that, I just find it very silly when people propose fantasy based scenarios to real world issues. The “imagine if” type crap, because there is no limit to how far one can imagine…

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

What is silly about the comment?

The very reason for the exit permit system is to prevent people who want to leave from leaving without the permission of their sponsor.

And if that’s not the reason, then what is the exit permit system for?

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Strange….!!!! ….and if they want to go they still cannot go because their sponsor will not let them go, so what do they do if they still want to get out. That’s the million dollar question. Something just does not seem right

Cerebus
Cerebus
6 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

But not so silly to just say to people that think something is wrong, just pack it up and go? Makes people feel so welcome. I am not saying the above is a fantasy scenario either, it is actually inevitable. Unless the oil/gas is replaced by something else, Qatar will return to the place it was a century before. Its the same story the world over. The decline will be swift, sudden, and shocking. Its not a fantasy, it is the future.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

Ever heard of Nauru. It used to be the richest country in the world in a GDP per capita calculation.

Here is a profile from 1982, at the height of its “riches”

http://www.nytimes.com/1982/03/07/magazine/world-s-richest-little-isle.html

These days it is a poverty stricken island that relies on foreign aid to get by.

Just saying.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

But reality scenarios are very similar, Qatar has rapidly gone through the low-hanging fruit of available labour sources and spends more and more time and money to meet demand, all of which can be stopped by the whim of other countries or international situations.

mobilno007
mobilno007
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

before something like that happens , good should give ppl some mind . that spending money in the pocket more than you earn will not last longer .
and for someone i had heard ,” your just tucking away the sand , but beware sand will come back again” .

mobilno007
mobilno007
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

that’s question . Couple of neighboring countries don’t have it and still running their business as usual . it still don’t under why its[exit prt] required .

Scarletti
Scarletti
6 years ago

taxi drivers have a bum deal in Qatar – many have a minimum daily earnings target encouraging them to work longer and longer shifts and puts them and other road users in danger – they have every right to strike

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
6 years ago
Reply to  Scarletti

You should say – they should have the right to strike, but they don’t. Wasn’t there an article recently on the last set of workers being deported for going on a strike?

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
6 years ago

Uber is the answer. This archaic system helps no one, neither the passengers nor the drivers. Drivers are underpaid or unhappy and passengers seem to voice concerns in all public transport articles about how inflexible the system is. Oh wait, Uber already works here, amazing. Never used it, how does it compare?

R.D.H
R.D.H
6 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

über is brilliant. Cannot imagine using a karwa knowing that i can get uber

Cerebus
Cerebus
6 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

Uber has a giant investor as well. That would be the State Investment of Qatar, so Uber is in essence a Qatari company anyway….seems it would just be the way here now.

Michael L
Michael L
6 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

Unfortunately uber works brilliantly in London and Abu dhabi not so well in Doha … I wonder why ?

Saleem
Saleem
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael L

3ashan ma tishrib mie

R.D.H
R.D.H
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael L

Really? I’ve found uber here to be just as good as it is in London. Never seems to be a shortage of cars whenever I need one

AnonymityBreedsContempt
AnonymityBreedsContempt
6 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

Uber costs more.

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
6 years ago

Very bad system. Bring back the orange color taxis. Enough of this karwa drama. Please let the public travel in peace without tension.

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
6 years ago

Wasn’t a bad system, the downfall was the cars, but for 500-1500qr or so a month in “fees” to the “sponsor” or owner of the car, it wasn’t a bad deal, often available, drivers weren’t so bad, although I’m sure the economics of it contribute to living conditions that were a bit….bad. What happened to the old drivers?

sadam
sadam
6 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

No. the downfall was somebody decided to monopolize things.

Agota Federico
Agota Federico
6 years ago

Good report. Wish a system could be implemented for these poor drivers. Apply to all.

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
6 years ago

Love the illustrative photo of the cabbie on the phone whilst driving…..is he the one with the fines paying off until 2020?

Expat77
Expat77
6 years ago
Reply to  SokhnaFan2010

By making some aggressive Taxi drivers to remain in Qatar paying off their fines till 2020 it perpetuates mediocrity. Karwa should let them go…Let better drivers take their place…

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  Expat77

exactly it is a vicious circle.
Karwa should let them go, but Karwa should stop also exploiting these people. This is just another face of slavery.

Coco
Coco
6 years ago

Reading the title, i thought the drivers were upset that they were overpaid…Imagine my surprise 🙂

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  Coco

Exactly, looking at their brand new cars, the headphones in their ears, the arrogance, their attitude and their habit of choosing and picking passengers as they please made me think they were actually owning the cars they drove and the company as well

Omar Zakarneh
Omar Zakarneh
6 years ago

What people don’t know, that the taxi drivers gets nothing from your meters payment. they have a certain mileage to cover. That’s why we should give them an extra tip.

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