Singapore

Faster way for cabbies to settle disputes with taxi firms

Faster way for cabbies to settle disputes with taxi firms
The NTA receives about 10 cases a week on a range of issues that ­drivers face with their taxi companies, insurance firms or between drivers themselves. TODAY File Photo
Parties go from pre-mediation, mediation to adjudication, where needed, in more structured system
Published: 4:03 AM, October 23, 2014

SINGAPORE — Taxi drivers can now turn to a more structured system to help settle disputes with their taxi companies quickly and amicably, with the Taxi Industry Mediation system.

A collaboration between the Land Transport Authority (LTA), taxi firms and the National Taxi Association (NTA), the system was launched in July and is on trial for six months.

The NTA receives about 10 cases a week on a range of issues that drivers face with their taxi companies, insurance firms or between drivers themselves. Cabbies often get into disputes over the amount they have to pay in the event of an accident, and a top complaint is drivers feeling they were unfairly terminated due to service lapses.

“For example, one was rude to the customer or didn’t fulfil the booking on time, and after one or two times, the company may decide to terminate the agreement and, therefore, one cannot drive with this operator anymore,” said NTA executive adviser Ang Hin Kee. “That impacts their livelihood, and many times it has been (cases of) it’s your word against mine.”

A better way, he said, is to have parties sit down together through a neutral party, to work out the best solution, rather than people feeling aggrieved that his or her version of the facts was not properly addressed.

The association first mooted the mediation idea last year. Under the system, if parties cannot come to an agreement, the NTA would refer the case to the LTA for pre-mediation. If it is not resolved at pre-mediation, the LTA can refer it to the Singapore Mediation Centre for professional help. If there is still no resolution, the case can go to a civil court for adjudication.

When the NTA makes a case referral, the LTA requires up to two weeks to evaluate the legitimacy of the dispute before convening the pre-mediation session with the parties. In nearly three months since the trial started, one case was referred to LTA. The case was resolved amicably during the pre-mediation stage.

Mr Harry Ng, a taxi driver who works with ComfortDelGro, said: “Let’s say the taxi drivers have any disputes with the company, they know where to go to look for help. This is fair to the drivers ... at least it’s not one-sided.”

Mr Ang added: “With some precedent cases that have been settled through the mediation, we hope that future cases can take reference from these and, therefore, disputes can be resolved quickly because (those involved) know now that there has been a case of this nature resolved before in this manner.”

With a more structured system in place, the NTA also expects to see fewer disputes in future.