Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Sharjah: A number of taxi drivers have raised complaints once again for being made to work for 15 hours per day without a day off, in addition to paying for their own medical expenses and uniforms.

B.N., a driver employed at Sharjah Taxi, told Gulf News that he recently had to pay Dh2,500 for his medical treatment after contracting chickenpox from a passenger. The company allegedly did not repay him back.

"I was off from work for 15 days and had my salary deducted because of that. I heard on the radio that our salaries have been increased, but that is not the case. The company does not help us in anyway and we are being exploited. Nobody is helping us."

One-year ban

A group of taxi drivers previously lodged a complaint with the Immigration Department but then received a one-year-ban after their employers provided a detailed list of their grievances against the drivers' conduct and behaviour.

Taxi drivers said one of their main grievances is that they are unable to reach the daily target of Dh300, for which they are then fined a minimum of Dh100.

"Nobody wants to use a taxi anymore because it is too expensive, and they use the buses instead. We do not have many passengers, and after working for 15 hours every day we can only make up to Dh250," said M.K.

According to taxi drivers, they are entitled to a salary of Dh500 per month with a commission rate from five to 35 per cent of their total revenue. However, most of their allowance goes in having to pay for their uniforms, traffic fines and maintenance of their vehicles.

"In our contract it says we are entitled to Dh1,200 for our annual leave but I have not received it yet," said a driver who has been employed for almost 20 months.

An official at Sharjah Taxi said that the treatment of taxi drivers was standardised across the country, and that taxi drivers are expected to work without any days off in addition to paying for their uniforms and all their traffic fines.

"Passengers need to have taxis available to them at all times, and Friday is no exception. The only taxi drivers that are entitled to a day off are the female drivers who are stationed at Sharjah International Airport," said the official, who wished to remain anonymous.

"Sharjah Taxi offers better services than other companies because they pay for their employees' visas. If taxi drivers do not want to pay their traffic fines, then they should be cautious when driving as it is their responsibility to abide by the traffic rules."