Unite Wales have slammed Transport for Wales for asking taxi drivers to stump up hundreds of pounds to renew rank permits whilst receiving universal credit payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Welsh cabbies, many of them currently not working or earning a tiny fraction of their usual income, have turned to the government for universal credit payments to help pay for basic costs like food and other home essentials since the coronavirus outbreak took hold in the UK.
Taxi union representatives in Wales have expressed their dismay that drivers relying on the £94 per week universal credit payments to “feed families”, are being asked to pay hundreds of pounds to Transport for Wales contractor NCP to renew taxi permits at Cardiff Central Train Station.
Taxi drivers are asking Transport for Wales and NCP to defer the permit renewal fees during the COVID-19 lockdown. In an invoice issued by NCP on 28 March and shared by the union, it asks one taxi driver to pay £547 by 28 April.
Unite Wales tweeted: “Given the known impact of COVID-19 on the taxi trade, it's ridiculous that NCP acting on behalf of Transport for Wales Rail have not deferred permit renewal fees for Cardiff Central.
“Cardiff City Council have acted sensibly, why not Transport For Wales?
“We urge Transport for Wales to #SupportCardiffTaxis”
The Union followed up with a second tweet saying: “After repeated assurances that this would be addressed over a period of two weeks, Transport for Wales Rail have still not shown any compassion for Cardiff taxi drivers that service Cardiff Central Station.
“Their contractor NCP is demanding £500 from people trying to feed families on £94 a week”
Alan McCarthy, A Unite Union Officer, added: “Drivers are expected to pay hundreds of pounds for rank access, and NCP provide precisely zero support for this. At a time of severe financial hardship too.
“Transport for Wales Rail should instruct NCP to defer renewal charges, and make them manage this rank with the thousands of pounds they take.”
A Transport for Wales Rail spokesperson responded to the accusations in a series of Tweets saying: “We recognise the impact that COVID-19 is having on businesses across Wales and have been working hard throughout the period to prioritise the safety of staff and customers.
“We are also working closely with business affected to help mitigate the impact as much as possible.
“We remain committed to ongoing dialogue with NCP regarding this issue, ensuring we follow all relevant government advice.“
Cardiff Central image credit: Jeremy Segrott (Wikimedia Commons CC2.0)