Taxi drivers in South Wales are pleading with their council to scrap proposed licence fee increases to help the industry emerge from a catastrophic coronavirus pandemic.
According to Unite Wales sources, taxi drivers received a letter this Easter weekend which indicated that licence fees in the Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) region would be increasing in May.
Since March 2020 the pandemic has forced large parts of the UK to place restrictions on social activities and travel. This has seen a dramatic downturn in work levels for the taxi and private hire industry throughout the UK.
Alan McCarthy, Unite Union Regional Officers, said: “We’re all fully aware of the significant impact that the COVID pandemic has had on this trade in particular. For taxi drivers, it hasn’t been a straightforward case of being in lockdown or out of lockdown, but that the trades and sectors that they rely on to generate fares have been necessarily restricted to the point that they simply do not generate the income.
“Restrictions on hospitality, tourism and the consequences of people working from home to name but a few, have resulted in drivers not making ends meet. It’s for this reason that Unite spent so long in discussion with Welsh Government about the need for a more generous application of grant support, and this has been acknowledged by Welsh Government as they’ve put this in place.”
Unite Wales are now urging RCT Council to rescind the increase in fees for Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) drivers licensed by the authority, and commence consultation with the Unite Wales branch.
Unite’s Alan McCarthy went on to add: “Not only have these vital earning opportunities been so scares for over a year, it’s acknowledged that it may take some time for consumer confidence to return to these areas, even in light of the vaccination program and without taking into account the risk of a third wave.
“It’s for this reason that so many drivers are vocally upset at the announcement of an increase in fees. Indeed, it would be our intention to engage in a discussion with stakeholders, through the branch representatives and myself, on a reduction in the existing fees which appear far in excess of those paid in Cardiff, Newport and Caerphilly.”
McCarthy finally added: “Put simply, if we cannot reasonably control the existence of earning opportunities to put money into these workers pockets, we should take strong steps to reduce the money going out.”