LARNACA airport taxi drivers will today stage a 24-hour warning strike outside the airport in a dispute over insurance and diesel prices.
The strike follows similar action last week.
The taxi drivers complain they are forced to seek insurance from the Joint Insurance Company, a conglomerate of all the 22 individual insurance companies on the island, which provides cover for taxis and buses as well as for other high risk groups.
Yesterday taxi drivers threatened an indefinite strike if their demands were not satisfied.
Union representative Andreas Iacovides said a petition had been sent to the Finance Ministry, pointing out that taxis had the right to get insurance anywhere they wanted.
But their current insurer, the Joint Insurance Company, blocked the other companies and insisted in holding them hostage, he charged.
One driver said last week that he had been quoted £750 to renew his policy.
But a source in the Joint Insurance Company pointed out that no one insured taxi drivers because they were high risk.
He noted that the joint venture was made up of all 22 companies that transacted with motor business and the reason they came together was to share the extremely high risk.
The joint venture was set up in 1975 to provide insurance for high-risk professional groups such as taxis, buses and rental cars.
“No one dares insure them,” the source said.
Even if the Joint Insurance Company were to be dissolved, the overwhelming majority of taxi drivers would remain uninsured.
“Some, who have good records, will get insurance but most won’t,” the source said.
And even if taxi drivers did manage to get insured at individual companies, the premiums would be much higher.
Due to its nature, the joint venture had less costs – commissions to agents and administrative – and so it can offer lower premiums, even if they are considered steep by taxi drivers.
Eleven per cent of the premium currently paid to the Joint Insurance Company covers administrative costs, while individual companies charge between 42 and 45 per cent, the source said.
“It would not be in their interest (to try and get insured elsewhere),” he added.
The drivers are also protesting about the ever-rising cost of diesel, which has now caught up with the price of petrol.
But fears that the strike would cause chaos at the airport could prove unfounded as the drivers said they would park their cars on the side of the road leading to the terminal.
Reports last week suggested the taxi drivers were planning to block access to the airport’s main entrance.
However, there would not be any taxis at the airport to service people arriving on the island.
As an apology for any inconvenience they may cause today, drivers will be handing out red carnations to passengers.