IWGB claims Transport for London sabotaged union efforts to cooperate with police to improve safety despite epidemic of violence against Uber drivers
Today the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union release the results of a comprehensive survey of Uber and other private hire drivers showing an epidemic of violence in the trade. 55% of all private hire drivers have been physically assaulted at work, 78% have been threatened with violence while 80% have been victims of hate crime.
Transport for London, despite recognising stakeholder representation from six separate bodies to represent 23,000 taxi drivers who are overwhelmingly White British, refuses to recognise any dedicated representation exclusively for 113,000 private hire drivers who are overwhelmingly identified as BAME.
The IWGB alledge TfL went to extraordinary lengths to also stop the Metropolitan Police Cab Enforcement Unit (CEU) – a TfL funded Met Police force dedicated to taxi and private hire policing – from engaging with the union towards improving minicab driver and passenger safety.
In August 2017 Inspector Neil Billany, then head of the CEU, is said to have broke off all engagement with UPHD around the time his letter to TfL concerning Uber’s handling of sexual assaults was published in the press. Billany explained he needed to break off engagement due to ‘recent press’ activity according to the union.
UPHD lodged an IPCC complaint and recently received a report on the internal investigation which shows Billany was told not to attend any further meetings with the union by an unnamed senior officer and by Silka Kennedy-Todd, TfL’s Head of Stakeholder Relations for Taxi and Private Hire.
The new head of the Met Police Cab Enforcement Unit has since set aside TfL's police directive and now meets quarterly with the union though TfL continues to refuse engagement.
James Farrar, Chair of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union and co lead claimant in Aslam and Farrar v Uber said:
“Private hire drivers working for Uber and others are suffering horrendous levels of violence and abuse at work as well as being denied their statutory worker rights. It’s right that Uber be held accountable for passenger safety in court this week but now both Uber and TfL also need to be held accountable for the catastrophic levels of violence suffered by drivers working in London’s booming minicab trade.”
Yaseen Aslam, Secretary of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union and co lead claimant in Aslam and Farrar v Uber said:
“TfL’s behind the scenes attempt to derail our good faith efforts to work directly with the Metropolitan Police to improve safety and security of our members and their passengers is a shameful betrayal of the public interest. Once again we see disturbing evidence of institutional racism at play within Transport for London which must now be urgently tackled.”