Minicab drivers to block London Bridge to protest 'tax on the poor'

Protests set to continue every Monday

Hundreds of minicab drivers are expected to block London Bridge with their cars as part of the growing protests against the regressive congestion charge introduced by Transport for London, which will see their take home pay slashed by 25%. The protest called by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain's (IWGB) United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch against regressive congestion charges on minicabs to be introduced in April, builds on three previous demonstrations that were attended by thousands of drivers. The protest will take place on Monday (4 February) from 16:00 - 18:00 and drivers vow to repeat the protest every Monday.

TfL's own impact analysis showed a disproportionate impact on poor and BAME workers with 71% of TfL licensed minicab drivers hailing from designated deprived areas and 94% identifying as BAME. Black cab drivers, who are 80% white British, continue to be exempt from paying congestion charge.

The growth of these protests shows the rising anger among minicab drivers that feel ignored by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who refuses to speak to them or address their concerns. The policy introduced by the Mayor and Transport for London amounts to a “tax on the poor” and will see minicab drivers’ take home pay slashed by up to 25%, while doing little to reduce congestion. TfL expects its policy to reduce congestion by only 600 cars per day or just 1% of the private hire traffic that goes through the congestion zone. Analysis included in TfL’s report to the Mayor shows that air quality is expected to get worse as a result of the plan. The IWGB proposes an alternative policy to deal with the problem of congestion, including:

  • A cap on the total number of minicab driver licenses.

  • A licensing cost levy on private hire operators, based on the frequency of private hire vehicles from their fleet appearing in the congestion zone.

  • To reduce the amount of time drivers spend on the road waiting for passengers, TfL should provide dedicated rest spaces for at least 4,000 minicabs.

  • Minimum wage enforcement, which would provide the necessary incentive for operators to reduce the number of cars on the road.

Yaseen Aslam, Secretary of the IWGB's UPHD branch, said: "The Mayor has refused to engage with minicab drivers who will be pushed into greater poverty by this ruinous tax on the poor. London is one of the most profitable cities in the world for operators like Uber, yet it is drivers and their families, not the company, that are being made to bear the costs of fixing up congestion.Until the Mayor comes to the table and listens to us we are left with no choice but to further escalate our protests."

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