The hands of regional taxi drivers across the State have been tied ahead of this weekend’s strike, according to Bunbury Taxi Co-op director Graeme Liebeck.
The Co-op will join regional drivers across WA by striking for 48 hours from 4pm on Friday.
Mr Liebeck said the Department of Transport had been refusing to talk to the owners of regional taxis for a couple of years.
“In the latest State Budget they allocated $10,000 to pay existing operators per taxi licence,” he said.
“We’ve got people who still owe $130,000 to $150,000 on their plate.”
He said regional areas missed out enough already and Perth drivers would receive between $100,000 and $150,000 for their plates.
“I’ve got a letter from Alannah MacTiernan when she was Minister for Planning and Infrastructure in 2002 that said country drivers own their plates in-perpetuity and we have the same rights as Perth,” he said.
“The Transport Department has been talking about buyback for years, now all of a sudden they are saying they don’t own our plates.”
Mr Liebeck said the plates issued previously by the Government had inherent value because they operated in a regulated market.
“There are just 30 taxis in Bunbury and there is enough work for those 30 taxis,” he said.
“Anyone that wants a plate after June 30 can just walk in and pick one up over the counter. There could be 100 drivers which means those in the Co-op go broke.”
The Bunbury Co-op is the only on-demand transport provider in the region that provides a 24-hour service. It employs six operators who also help Busselton taxis.
“We won’t survive how things currently are, Bunbury taxis will close down,” Mr Liebeck said.
“Our operators have already been put on notice that come June 30 they won’t have job.
“We will be just another empty shop in Bunbury at that point.”
The Co-op’s wheelchair taxis will continue to operate during the strike.
Mr Liebeck said he regretted inconvenience caused by the industrial action.