Unite calls for Welsh Government to provide vital financial support to ‘forgotten’ taxi drivers

Image credit: Unite Wales

Unite Wales has today launched a campaign calling upon Welsh government to provide a financial package of support for the Welsh taxi trade. 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.

Unite is calling for, amongst other things, the establishment of a “hardship fund scheme” alongside financial grants to taxi drivers to install screens in cars and the purchase of essential PPE.

Unite Wales secretary Peter Hughes said: “It is Unite’s view that the taxi trade has slipped through the net of Welsh government financial support for our transport sector. Our members feel as if they have been forgotten and left to fend for themselves.

"Taxi drivers provide an essential service and are an integral cog in our transport infrastructure. During the COVID-19 crisis their income has been decimated with few avenues open to them from government to access financial support.

“Unite’s campaign, launched today, is calling for a range of measures to ensure our members are able to see out this crisis and are adequately supported to enable them to financially survive this crisis. Taxi drivers provide an essential service throughout Wales, transporting essential workers and children to school. Their plight can no longer be ignored and we today urge the Welsh government to act quickly to support drivers and their families.”

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 leave 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.”

Unite Wales are asking drivers and the public to support the campaign by signing a petition found here: https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/support-welsh-taxi-drivers