The taxi drivers strike at Larnaca airport is being suspended hours after it was launched, following an attack incident and an invitation by the transport minister to meet representatives Thursday afternoon.
A couple of private cabbies who were not taking part in he strike were attacked according to media reports as they were ready to take passengers, but anti-riot police officers were able to avert an escalation.
The strikers seem determined to continue their protest, however they decided to call off their airport measures until they meet with Transport Minister Vasiliki Anastasiadou at her office at 3pm.
Taxi drivers went on strike to demonstrate what they call “unfair treatment and indifference” by the Transport Department.
The cabbies are determined to continue their protest but decided to suspend the strike until they meet with the minister
The strike was initially 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 resume the strike. But representatives said they would make decisions after they meet with the minister.
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.
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.