Cabbies refuse fares

2/6/2006 9:24:37 AM
Murder victim ... Youbert Hormozi

HUNDREDS of Sydney taxi drivers will refuse passengers for about three hours this afternoon in a mark of respect for slain cabbie Youbert Hormozi.

Up to 500 drivers are expected to join mourners already gathered at Mr Hormozi's funeral at the St Hurmizd's Cathedral of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East at Greenfield Park.

NSW Taxi Drivers Association president Michael Jools said up to 500 drivers flying black ribbons from their car aerials would also refuse fares in Sydney between 1pm and 4pm today.

He said the stoppage was a gesture of respect for Mr Hormozi, 53, who was bashed and left to die in Canley Heights last Tuesday.

Drivers were shocked by Mr Hormozi's death and wanted to highlight ongoing safety concerns that are a part of the taxi industry, he said.

"We're fed up (with violence) and we want to see change and it's not just change for the good of the taxi drivers, it's change for the good of the passengers," Mr Jools said.

Two 14-year-old girls have been charged with the murder of Mr Hormozi, whose taxi was dumped in Bonnyrigg after the assault.

Mr Jools, a taxi driver with 15 years' experience, said cabbies were often the targets of serious violence.

He said closed circuit security cameras and protective shields were often ineffective against violent passengers.

"We want to change that so the workplace of drivers becomes relatively safe, there is no way you can make things completely safe, but we want to improve matters," he said.

"It's probably the wrong time to make a complaint, but really, whenever is a good time?

"You could probably justly accuse us of taking advantage of the death of a driver in taking this action today, but sorry that's what we're doing."

The NSW Transport Workers Union (TWU) said security cameras in taxis must be audited to ensure they're functioning and effective.

Protective shields must also be checked, he said.

"The thoughts and prayers of every taxi driver are with Youbert's family today," TWU secretary Bruce Penton said.

"No family should ever have to endure this trauma. That's why it's crucial that a security review of the taxi industry occurs as a matter of urgency."

Transport Minister John Watkins today expressed his condolences to the Hormozi family.

Premier Morris Iemma said taxis already had security screens or closed circuit television cameras and the government was willing to consider other security measures.

"Any reasonable measures to improve taxi driver security will be introduced," he told reporters.