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“David Vs Goliath” Taxi & private hire battles should not be left to the court says MP Wes Streeting

Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North and Shadow Minister for Schools, has said that it’s time for the Government to step up and deal with big multinational companies who are failing on issues such as workers’ rights, instead of leaving it for individuals to handle such “David versus Goliath” battles.

Streeting’s comments came during a parliamentary discussion held following a Supreme Court judgement, which concluded that drivers working on the Uber ride-sharing app are entitled to be considered as employees.

Speaking of the judgement, which has been welcomed by a number of MP’s including himself, Streeting asked: “Does not the Minister understand that these issues cannot just be left to the courts and that, in this David versus Goliath battle with big multinational companies that are exploiting workers, avoiding tax and flouting safety rules, people need to see the Government on their side?

“With that in mind, will the Government finally legislate to give gig economy workers the protection they deserve?”

Paul Scully, Parliamentary Under Secretary and Minister of State for London, said: “The Government have already taken a number of commitments through, including extending the right for a written statement of core terms of employment for all workers; quadrupling the maximum fine for employers who treat their workers badly; and closing a loophole that sees agency workers employed on cheaper rates than permanent workers.

“There are a number of areas—I will not go on, Madam Deputy Speaker—where we have progressed, but there is plenty more to do.“

Wes Streeting has always taken a keen interest in how the taxi and private hire industry has developed over recent years and hasn’t shied away from speaking about any of his concerns surrounding the trade.

In an exclusive interview with TaxiPoint, held in 2019, Wes addressed the ongoing saga of Uber’s London licence.

When asked the question 'who is checking that Uber are compliant with the current legislation pertaining to their licensing, given that they were granted a probationary license?' Streeting said: “Well that is the job of Transport for London (TfL). I actually met with Uber recently in San Francisco with a group of cross-party MPs, and we were looking at the future of technology and the impact on the economy and society.

“They’ve clearly got big ambitions around the future of transportation, and I think they acknowledge that they have made some grand mistakes. What I am yet to be convinced about is that they have fundamentally changed, and that they understand the impact of their approach on the whole of the London transport industry.

“I still have a big health warning attached to Uber and I haven’t seen enough evidence of change to convince me that they should be operating.“

In the latest parliamentary discussion, Wes also addressed the ongoing financial plight which taxi and private hire drivers see themselves currently facing due to the ongoing pandemic.

Wes asked: “Is it not finally time to give taxi drivers and private hire drivers the support they desperately need as a result of the impact that the pandemic has had on the pound in their pockets?”

Paul Scully added: “On the coronavirus support, as I have said, any further support beyond the self-employment income schemes, the grant schemes and the discretionary grant schemes will be outlined in the Budget by the Chancellor.“


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