Hong Kong taxi unions say they plan to surround government headquarters with a 500-strong fleet of cabs on Friday in protest of a government plan to introduce new franchised taxis. They have also threatened a three-hour strike.

The unions said last Friday that they opposed the plan to bring in 600 new taxis under three new franchises which would not be required to maintain an employer-employee relationship with drivers.

Hong Kong Taxi
File photo: Kevin Poh via Flickr.

“The trade is very, very dissatisfied, even angry,” said Taxi Dealers and Owners Association chairman Ng Kwan-sing. “The Transport Department has not listened to any of the trade’s opinions.”

The Transport Department initially proposed introducing franchised taxis – then known as luxury taxis – in 2015. Details of the plan to introduce a fleet of 600 emerged last week.

The franchised taxis will be able to charge higher fares than their traditional counterparts, but must provide online booking services.

500 taxis

On Monday, local media reported that unions will directly surround the government headquarters and the Legislative Council building in Admiralty with a fleet of 100 taxis on Friday. Another 400 taxi drivers will park their vehicles on neighbouring streets at the Central harbourfront.

The legislature is set to discuss the franchise plan that morning.

Legislative Council Hong Kong
Legislative Council building in Hong Kong. Photo: Wikicommons.

Unions say that they will also call for a three-hour strike by taxis across Hong Kong, if the government does not communicate with them and rescind the plan.

The taxi trade has been plagued with complaints of poor customer service in recent years and competition from apps such as Uber. Fares are also set to increase in April.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.