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Scottish PHV drivers forced to take passengers in front seats is ‘ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGEOUS’ says ADCU

A Scottish private hire union has described reports of operators and booking offices forcing drivers to take passengers in the front seat of cars as ‘absolutely outrageous’ after high levels of complaints from its members.

The Scottish arm of the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) are receiving a number of reports from their members that operators and booking offices are pressuring drivers to take full car loads of passengers despite the ongoing pandemic.

Whilst there are no legal restrictions in place on passenger numbers in Scotland at present, and while the legal requirement for social distancing has been removed, it is the strong view of the union that drivers should still be afforded full discretion from their operators on how many passengers the driver feels safe to carry.

Throughout the pandemic, the majority of drivers were not taking passengers in the front seats of their cars and some are continuing that practice. Some firms, including Uber, set a blanket policy that passengers could not ride in the front seat, which is a policy still continued.

However, according to ADCU driver reports, there are some private hire and taxi firms in Scotland pressuring drivers to fill their cars with passengers, and in some cases threatening drivers with dismissal if they refuse to comply.

Eddie Grice, Chair of the Glasgow Branch of the ADCU, said: "These reports coming in from our members are absolutely outrageous. Firms shouldn't be putting demands like this on their workers. The pandemic is still ongoing and the virus is still amongst us. Everyone has different circumstances when it comes to health and each and every driver, simply, must be afforded the full discretion to make the decision on how many people they are willing to carry at any one time.

"Again, we see an industry hellbent on convincing everyone that drivers are independent contractors contradicting itself. Firms say that drivers are self-employed with complete freedom and decision making abilities over their work lives, while the reality is that firms are all too happy to be exercising levels of control over their workers that is tantamount to an employer-employee type of relationship.

“Day-to-day, drivers are being bullied and pressured to comply with rules being set by their firms and drivers are only independent contractors in name only and only when it suits those firms.”

Brian O'Donnell, a member of the ADCU, said: "Drivers being boxed in and up close and personal with front seated passengers are at an increased risk of catching Covid. Not to mention the fact that the passengers themselves are at increased risk by being closely exposed to a driver who has been forced to sit next to multiple passengers that day."

Paul Nelson, Vice Chair of the branch, said: "It should definitely be down to driver's discretion and no driver should be getting forced into situations where they feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Private hire companies that are pressuring their drivers to take passengers in the front are adding unnecessary risk to the mix."


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