Today the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union staged a surprise flash demo at TfL's main offices at the Palestra building on Blackfriars Road. The aim of the protest was to highlight the problem of institutional racism at TfL's taxi and private hire directorate.
The union says TfL's discrimination against 117,000 mostly BAME minicab drivers blights the development of fair and effective regulation and fosters a culture of accepted exploitation of workers by large operators including Uber, Addison Lee and Green Tomato Cars.
Abdura Hadi, Chair of UPHD London said:
“TfL's refusal to allow dedicated trade union recognition for 115,000 mostly BAME minicab drivers is indefensible and unconscionable. Worse, it leads to poorer outcomes for drivers and the travelling public when key constituents are excluded by the regulator like this.”
James Farrar, National Chair of UPHD said:
“Discrimination and exploitation are two sides of the same coin with one enabling the other. Time and again, we have asked the Mayor and TfL to take meaningful action to end sweatshop conditions for minicab drivers in the capital. But instead of helping us they take our money and punish us more.”
In addition, new testing requirements for language and driver proficiency as well as the prospect of ULEZ and congestion charging are all adding crushing new costs for drivers already earning far below minimum wage.
The IWGB union is calling on TfL to:
Recognise all trade unions representing minicab drivers and allow them an equal say along side corporate operators and black taxi drivers
Take action to secure the powers to make worker rights a condition of licensing for operators such as Uber, Addison Lee and Green Tomato Cars
Set up an independent review into the problem of sweatshop conditions in the licensed trade and formulate a robust plan for eradictation
Reduce costs of licensing and qualification for minicab drivers and/or mandate that operators pick up a fair share of the cost burden