Taxis drivers are questioning whether a new contract still leaves room for wage differences.
Taxis drivers are questioning whether a new contract still leaves room for wage differences.

Taxi firms drive a hard bargain

Abu Dhabi // Drivers of silver taxis are questioning whether a new "unified" contract, which takes effect today, still leaves too much ambiguity - and room for wage discrepancies. The taxi regulator TransAD and the Ministry of Labour yesterday signed a memorandum that would guarantee company housing and the same basic salary across all seven of the capital's taxi firms.

The contract's terms, however, allow the companies to set their own commission schemes. Masood Hashem, TransAD's director of compliance, regulation and licensing, said the concession on commission structures was necessary to accommodate different operational expenses for the companies. "Commission is ... based on the target and costs of the companies," he said. Even the different models of cars in fleets can affect overheads, he added. "It's really difficult to put a fixed standard commission," he said. "Some of the companies have Camrys, some of them have Altimas, some of them have Tiidas. The price of the vehicles is different, and [so is] the infrastructure for the company."

Under the new contract, which is optional for current drivers until their existing contracts expire, all drivers will receive at least Dh800 (US$218) basic salary a month, plus accommodation off the island. Commission will be paid once they gross more than Dh6,000 a month. "The commission must be approved by us," Mr Hashem said. "We don't want big differences between all companies, but we cannot tell them there is one standard."

About 600 or 700 new drivers are recruited each year, said Mr Hashem. One driver, who has been working for one-and-a-half years with Arabia Taxi company, appreciated changes in the contract that would give him a basic salary and company-provided housing. But he was disappointed by the decision to leave commission to the firms. "This salary for the new drivers and all drivers will be Dh800, but what is going to be the commission after Dh6,000?" he said. "There are seven companies in Abu Dhabi. All have different rules. I'll see if the commission is good."

Under his current contract, he said, a driver who exceeds Dh10,000 in fares gets a 35 per cent commission. Earning that kind of money is physically draining, however, said another driver from the Q Link taxi company. The Nepalese driver, 28, estimated that he works about 15 hours every day to make that amount, or about Dh300 a day. "We need to see the commission," said the driver, who has worked at Q Link for two years. "Now our basic salary is Dh800, plus if we make more than Dh4,000 in one month we get commission." The new contract would raise the bar for earning commission to Dh6,000. "Nobody will be happy, I think, because it's difficult to earn money," he said.

Sayed Hakeem, the general manager for Emirates Taxi, said the new contract was "basically the same" as the current one offered by his company. "It helps the drivers and the companies, because everything is black and white," he said. "Basically, the lousiest of the drivers should get at least Dh800. A decent one Dh3,000." Mr Hashem said, he expected the majority of the capital's taxi drivers to welcome the new contract.

"We tried to make something equal to everybody to benefit the companies and also the drivers," he said. Hameed bin Deemas, the acting director general of the Ministry of Labour, said he understood that the average salary of taxi drivers was about Dh3,500 a month, not including accommodation. He hoped the new contract would reduce complaints from drivers.

Four tips to secure IoT networks

Mohammed Abukhater, vice president at FireEye in the Middle East, said:

- Keep device software up-to-date. Most come with basic operating system, so users should ensure that they always have the latest version

- Besides a strong password, use two-step authentication. There should be a second log-in step like adding a code sent to your mobile number

- Usually smart devices come with many unnecessary features. Users should lock those features that are not required or used frequently

- Always create a different guest network for visitors


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July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

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