Drivers for minicab firm Addison Lee are to strike today (Wednesday May 1) at Luton airport over pay rates that they say average just £4.72 an hour at times, which is well below the over-25 statutory minimum wage of £8.21. Drivers for the firm who won a bid to service the UK's fifth busiest airport announced the 24 hour strike claiming they are working around 70 hours a week but still earning low wages.
Drivers are also calling for cuts to the commission taken by Addison Lee which is currently 35% of fares plus a weekly rental fee of £210 for Addison Lee-liveried vehicles. As reported by the Guardian, Judges have repeatedly ruled that drivers for gig economy firms including Addison Lee and Uber should be treated as workers entitled to the national minimum wage and paid holiday, but appeals by the companies mean changes are yet to be introduced.
Taxipoint recently reported that US private equity firm Carlyle Group, who are the owners of the Addison Lee, have hired Bank of America and Rothschild in an attempt to try and offload the company, with an asking price of between £300m and £500m. It was reported that a slump in demand for diesel powered vehicles, as well as dwindling car sales in China, has seen 4,500 jobs lost worldwide, with JLR careering toward their first annual loss in a decade.
In a bid to reverse their struggling fortunes, it has been revealed that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) may be considering a bid for the minicab firm.
Imran Iqbal, a driver for the minicab giants, said: “On an average week, I’m working 65 hours and taking home less than £350. So while I’ve been earning far below the minimum wage, Addison Lee’s owners made tens of millions of dollars last year. We have tried talking to the company, we have tried protesting and now we are left with no other option but to strike.”
The majority of the firms drivers who work at Luton airport are Muslim, so are also demanding a place to pray while they are on long shifts. A spokesperson for Addison Lee said: “We engage directly with our self-employed Luton driver partners to help them earn a decent living. We have invested almost £7m in our Luton operation since 2016, which has benefited drivers directly, and average Luton driver partner pay increased by 11% between 2017 and 2018. We regularly review our driver deal to ensure it is competitive.” A spokesperson for Luton airport said: “The wellbeing of everyone who works at the airport is really important to us … However, as this is a matter between Addison Lee and the union, we are unable to comment further. We are also working to ensure that any disruption to passengers is kept to a minimum.”
IWGB UPHD branch secretary Yaseen Aslam said: “While we are not surprised that Addison Lee’s vulture capitalist owners would try and draw every last ounce of blood from Luton’s drivers, we are shocked that a Labour council is so happy to sit by and do nothing while drivers earn below the minimum wage. With this strike we want to send a message not only to Addison Lee, but also the council: Do your job as a regulator and stop letting these companies drive your citizens into abject poverty.”
Image: Source; Geograph
Image: Author; Stacey Harris