The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is taking a legal battle against Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s decision to introduce a congestion charge on minicab drivers to the Court of Appeal, on the grounds that it discriminates against the sector’s “overwhelmingly BAME workforce”.
The case begins today, 30 June, and rolls over into 1 July.
The IWGB will argue that the decision to introduce the charge for minicab drivers while black cab drivers continue to be exempt, constitutes a case of indirect discrimination under the Equality Act. 94% of minicab drivers are from Black and Ethnic Minority (BAME) backgrounds, while 88% of black cab drivers are white.
The union will also argue that the charge discriminates against women, who are more likely to work part time, and disabled or elderly passengers, who have fewer transport options as a result of the charge.
The IWGB will be appealing a decision by the High Court from July 2019 which stated that the Congestion Charge on minicabs was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The union will argue that the decision to remove the exemption on minicabs was a breach of section 19 and 29 (6) Equality Act 2010 in respect of race, sex and disability.
London-based minicab driver and father of three Faiz Saim says: “The congestion charge increase is devastating for us. Especially on the back of Covid-19, which destroyed most of our business, I just can’t believe they’re doing this to us. The other day I only got two jobs in the morning and every penny I earned went on congestion charge payments. I’ve lost my weekends with my children, since I’ve got to be out there seven days a week now. I’m grateful the IWGB are calling on Sadiq Khan to think again. He should charge the companies instead of us drivers. Uber can afford it. We can barely afford to keep food on the table.”
IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee says: "Faced with the greatest economic crisis in 300 years, it is now more important than ever that London's low paid minicab drivers don't face a discriminatory tax on the poor. It is a shame that the Mayor has forced drivers to litigate in order to protect their livelihoods."
On 22 June, the congestion charge was increased by 30 percent to £15 per day. At the same time, plummeting demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many drivers into deeper poverty and debt, the union has claimed.
The IWGB’s legal team includes renowned discrimination barristers Ben Collins QC, Nadia Motraghi and Tara O'Halloran of Old Square Chambers, and TMP Solicitors founding partner Jacqueline McGuigan.
Image credit: Flickr- Centre for London/Remixed - TaxiPoint