Taxi drivers in Wales are to demonstrate in Cardiff today calling for more targeted support to be provided to the industry from the Welsh Government.
Last week Unite Wales called for the creation of a “hardship fund scheme” alongside financial grants to taxi drivers to install screens in cars and the purchase of essential PPE.
The campaign calling for the Welsh Government to provide a financial package of support for the Welsh taxi trade had been gathering early support, however there has still be no movement from the Welsh Government Buildings on the matter.
The income of Welsh taxi drivers has plummeted throughout the COVID-19 crisis and their ability to access adequate financial support to replace their lost income has left many of them struggling to pay their mortgages and feed their families.
Welsh Government has provided welcome support to other sections of the Welsh transport system including bus and rail. Unite is calling for similar action by the Welsh Government to cover taxi drivers.
Taxi drivers are now set to congregate outside the Welsh Government Buildings in Cathays Park, Cardiff at 10.30am.
A spokesperson from Unite Wales wrote via social media: “Our members in the taxi trade will be holding a demonstration in Cardiff City Centre as we continue with our campaign calling on Welsh Government to support drivers with a financial package.”
A spokesperson from Unite Edinburgh Cab Branch lent their support to the demonstration by replying: “Respect to our Welsh colleagues. Just like here in Scotland, they feel that no-one is listening to them and so they're holding a demonstration.
“Good luck and we hope that your government listen to your pleas for help.”
Speaking ahead of the demonstration, Peter Hughes, Unite Wales regional secretary, said: “Our taxi driver membership is in crisis and feel that today’s protest is the only way to get their voices heard. Taxi drivers have received little Welsh government financial support during the Covid-19 crisis and have seen their incomes fall through the floor. Our members feel as if they have been forgotten and left to fend for themselves.
"Unite is calling upon the Welsh government to introduce a range of measures to ensure our members are able to financially survive this crisis. Their plight is desperate and they need support now.”
Unite Wales regional officer, Alan McCarthy, said: “Taxi drivers differ from the wider self-employed workforce, in that there has been no real reprieve even when local and national lockdowns are ceased. The trade relies so heavily on other sectors, particularly hospitality, that any lingering restrictions on these sectors leaves a devastating impact on earning opportunities for taxi drivers. When people do not go out to socialise at weekends, they do not use taxis. When people are widely working from home, and not commuting to and from an office, they do not use taxis. When parents are working from home or furloughed, they choose to drop their children to school themselves instead of using taxi school contracts.
"While other sectors have been able to view the ceasing of lockdowns and easing of restrictions as an opportunity to regroup, this has not been the case for the taxi trade. For those that work in the trade the downturn has been consistent since March. A greater acknowledgement of the unique impact on the taxi trade is required from government, to ensure that these people are not forgotten about.”