The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is filing an application with the Central Arbitration Committee to set up a Collective Bargaining Unit for Addison Lee drivers in Luton, after the company failed to respond to a request for voluntary recognition.
If won, the collective bargaining agreement will be one of the first in the so called “gig economy” and give the company an obligation to negotiate with drivers over worsening pay and conditions. The application comes amid a dispute over pay and conditions for the drivers. Addison Lee recently cut the drivers’ pay by increasing their share of commission from 30% to 35% and increasing the weekly rent for their vehicles from £190 to £210.
As a result, the IWGB claim drivers now work 70-hour weeks with a take-home average of little more than £5 per hour. They also say that drivers are also ordered by managers to take Addison Lee’s cars for repairs and servicing on their own time for no pay. The United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch of the IWGB will protest against Addison Lee to emphasises the need for Collective Bargaining at the roundabout opposite the IBIS Hotel on Airport Way at 9am. Drivers will demand that the company reduce commission to 20%, reverse the weekly rent for vehicles back to £190 and that Addison Lee respect their worker rights in law. The protest means added pressure for Addison Lee, who were judged by the Employment Appeal Tribunal as unlawfully denying drivers basic employment rights, such as the minimum wage, holiday pay and other protections. Drivers in Luton are particularly attuned to the lack of protections and complain of a bullying culture within Addison Lee, where managers take advantage by threatening to remove drivers from the app as an intimidation technique. Two Members of Parliament, Gavin Shuker MP and Frank Field MP, have written to Addison Lee requesting that they work with the drivers to resolve these issues. The protest also seeks to pressure Luton council, with drivers demanding that the council meet its own standards. The council made a commitment for all Luton Airport workers to be paid the Living Wage of £8.75 per hour last year but also encouraged Luton’s minicab drivers to join Addison Lee after the company reportedly paid £2 million for exclusive rights to service Luton Airport for 5 years. Sohail Murtaza, member of the Luton Committee of UPHD branch, said:“Addison Lee management have been completely indifferent to the suffering of us drivers working at Luton Airport. We have been left with no option but to take to streets and protest and to demand trade union recognition and collective bargaining rights. We also call on Luton Borough Council and Luton Airport to step in and take action to end this brutal exploitation.” The IWGB is the leading trade union for workers in the so-called “gig economy”, with ongoing cases against Uber and Deliveroo.