Taxi drivers in Cork City are to stage a rolling protest on Monday amid complaints that they are the “forgotten frontline workers” since Covid-19 took hold earlier this year.
Backed by Cork Taxi Council (CTC), the protest will see drivers stage a slow-moving cavalcade from Mahon to the city centre to highlight the plight of the industry.
CTC chairman Bobby Lynch said that taxi drivers had transported doctors, nurses, hospital staff, pharmacists, and testing personnel to and from work since March.
Now, he said, taxi drivers are finding it hard to make a living wage while still having to meet stringent regulatory demands.
"We were driving frontline workers to hospitals and clinics," said Mr Lynch. "We were driving people to and from Covid-19 test centres. So we were very much on the frontline too.
"During the height of the pandemic, people were saying that they only wanted to take a taxi so they didn't put anyone else at risk. They failed to remember that taxi drivers are not immune and are putting themselves at risk too."
Drivers are calling for the implementation of a series of measures. These include the suspension of issuing new licences by the National Transport Authority, the temporary extension of age limits on cars from 10 to 12 years, a financial support package for drivers struggling to make a living income, a buy-back scheme for older drivers who now want to retire from the industry, free access to testing, and support with the provision of face masks and personal protective equipment.
"We have been totally forgotten about and that is why this protest is taking place," said Mr Lynch.
"We see other sectors of the economy getting help, even other sectors of the transport industry, and yet we seem to be forgotten about."
The protest will run from 10am to 12pm on Monday.