Private hire drivers set for High Court showdown to argue against London Mayor’s Congestion Charge

“Mayor Sadiq Khan is choosing to punish BAME drivers who are only trying to make an honest living,” says IWGB

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) will be arguing at the High Court on 10 and 11 July that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's decision to introduce a congestion charge on minicabs discriminates against and breaches the human rights of a mainly black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workforce. The IWGB is seeking a judicial review of Khan's decision to introduce the £11.50 charge on the grounds that it is a case of indirect discrimination under the Equality Act. The minicab representatives say the charge is being imposed on a workforce that is mainly BAME, whilst black cab drivers, who are mostly white, continue to be exempt. 

The IWGB also say the policy is in breach of a number of articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that cover discrimination, property rights, right to a family life and ability to carry out a profession. The action comes after the IWGB proposed a number of alternatives to this policy, including a cap on the total number of minicab driver licenses, a levy on minicab operators such as Uber and Viavan, and the enforcement of worker rights by Transport for London (TfL).

In London there are more than 106,000 private hire drivers, over four times more than the 23,000 registered black cabs in the capital. The IWGB also suggests discrimination runs throughout London's enforcement regime, saying minicabs are almost three times as likely to be stopped by enforcement officers as black cabs.

IWGB United Private Hire Drivers branch secretary, Yaseen Aslam, said: “We know who created the congestion mess in London. It was operators like Uber flooding the streets with cars while Transport for London was asleep at the wheel. Now, instead of capping the total number minicab licenses or making Uber pay, Mayor Sadiq Khan is choosing to punish BAME drivers who are only trying to make an honest living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. This is discriminatory, cruel and regressive, and we will not stop until we get justice.” Minicab driver and IWGB BAME officer, Muhumed Ali, said: “For years we have been asking Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London to do their job and regulate rogue minicab operators such as Uber. Instead of challenging these multinational companies, the Mayor has decided to lay the cost of out of control licensing on precarious drivers on poverty pay. Now it is up to us to make sure this discriminatory policy is scrapped.” The legal action follows seven weeks of protests earlier this year by minicab drivers who are demanding that the congestion charge be scrapped.

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