Unite the Union has accused taxi-hailing app Gett of ‘greed’ and seeking to ‘profit from the pandemic’ after raising the fees drivers must pay.
Gett announced earlier this week that it will increase the commission it takes when a customer books a journey through the app from 15% to 20%, which equates to a 33% increase. The increased charge will come into effect from Monday 8 June.
Taxi driver representatives, Unite the Union, say the increase in commission charges comes at a time when the UK’s 82,000 taxi drivers have seen their incomes collapse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With customers unlikely to be hailing cabs from the street or risk queuing at taxi ranks, drivers are increasingly reliant on apps such as Gett to generate work.
In the announcement to drivers on Monday, Gett claimed the increase in commission was due to a decrease in demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unite the Union have however been critical, saying there was no suggestion that the increase was temporary or for a limited period should work levels return.
According to Gett sources, the taxi app has made cuts in every department with all staff taking a 15% pay cut and the global CEO cutting his pay to zero.
Unite national officer for passenger transport, Bobby Morton, said: “Gett is being greedy, at a time when our taxi driver members have seen their incomes evaporate overnight. This increase is just another kick in the teeth.
“This is a classic case of profiteering in the pandemic. If this was a genuine short-term measure as a result of COVID-19, the company would have said that and provided a commitment to when commission rates will be reduced.
“Due to the need to socially distance and the effect that COVID-19 has had on individual behaviour, bookings through apps such as Gett are increasingly vital for many taxi drivers in order to try to scrape together a living.
“Unite has called on the government to provide specific help and assistance for taxi drivers but those calls have so far been ignored.”
A Gett spokesperson responded to Unite's statement, saying: "We know that times are tough for Black Cab drivers right now which is why we're working round the clock to get work back for cabbies in London.
"The change to commission will allow us to continue investing millions of pounds every year in our app, our corporate account sales teams and our 24/7/365 contact centre. In fact, every penny will be reinvested into enhancing and maintaining our service.
"We believe we remain the best option for Black Cab drivers in London who are looking for extra cash in their pockets at the end of the day."
Image credit: Ross Campbell