Police are making their presence known outside the Larnaca airport, where taxi drivers are currently on strike to demonstrate what they call “unfair treatment and indifference” by the Transport Department.
The strike is open-ended and began at 8am on Thursday, with taxis parked one behind the other in one lane, leaving the other lane open for traffic to go through.
It is not clear whether taxi drivers, who are members of the “Ayios Christoforos” and “Finikoudes” professional networks, may attempt to block more areas.
Police officers have shown up in numbers to ensure the strike does not interfere with the lawful activities of other taxi drivers or the general operations of the airport, just as pre-summer season arrivals are increasing.
The drivers have been complaining about the Licensing office within the Transport department, saying officials are “hostile” towards professional taxi drivers and follow a policy that keeps changing against their network.
"They treat us all as second class, not just professionals but also all other Cypriot legal citizens"
The problem at the core is an increasing number of additional licenses, which have been issued or are being issued to new drivers, who are not members of the professional networks.
Taxi drivers see this move as a threat to their occupation and livelihoods, as most of their work is generated over the summer. But with special shuttle buses being licensed to do runs from Larnaca airport to resort towns, such as Protaras and Ayia Napa, the networks are crying foul, saying there should have been more restrictions in the licensing process.
“With such decisions, they put us all, not just professionals but also all other Cypriot legal citizens, in a second class,” according to an earlier statement from the strikers.
Other grievances include taxi rest stops, with drivers saying there are changes coming but officials are not interested in listening to the networks’ opinions.
The main issue with most professional taxi drivers is that new licenses are given just for the summer, which is the period they get the bulk of their work. Protesters believe summer licenses should not be handed to newcomers, because it is lucrative for those who want to work for the summer but not during the less profitable winter time.
There have been no announements as to when the strike might end, so it remains open-ended as of Thurdday morning.