Taxi drivers working Gatwick Airport and Sussex area are to protest against Uber’s London licensed drivers who they claim are causing hardship for local drivers.
Campaigners are holding a rally on Saturday 31 October to call on Crawley borough council to step up pressure on Transport for London (TfL) and Uber to limit the operations of London licensed vehicles in Sussex.
Unite the Union’s campaigners are now calling for a change in Uber's 'Geo Fence', meaning Uber vehicles should only be able to receive requests from the Uber app in the region where the licensing authority is based.
800 local taxi drivers have signed a petition demanding action to rein in the activities of London based Uber vehicles.
On 31 October Uber is ceasing its operation from a designated waiting area within the Beehive Lane Industrial Estate near Crawley. However, Unite say there is now uncertainty over where the Uber vehicles will now wait.
Local taxi and private hire drivers, who are concerned for their livelihoods and the local economy where Crawley faces 57% unemployment, are now speaking out.
One local taxi driver, Zak Ben, said: "As taxi drivers we are embedded in the fabric of our communities. From business professionals to school mums, there isn’t anyone we don’t pick up and we know our town is struggling right now. We can’t afford to allow a multinational to take much needed business out of our local economy, it’s not on.”
Another driver, Dan Barnes said: “Right now our industry is operating at around 30%. Those drivers that aren’t working – aren’t earning! If people can’t work then they can’t spend any money. It’s that simple. How can our town recover from the pandemic if we are out of jobs? Uber working here is just heaping on the pressure.”
Unite Regional Officer Jamie Major said: "Crawley's economic dependence on Gatwick airport means the town is being badly affected by the Coronavirus crisis.
"Local taxi and private hire drivers are launching a campaign to ensure Crawley borough council and other local councils pile the pressure on Transport for London and Uber to restrict London based Uber vehicles from picking up fares around Gatwick and Crawley. The drivers are calling for a fair and level playing field.
"It’s wrong for a giant multinational with a controversial track record to damage local employment. We urge the councils to take action to support the economy in and around Gatwick and Crawley."