Private hire drivers unhappy that most white taxi industry remains exempt from Congestion Charge
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has today commenced legal action against the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for the proposed introduction of a congestion charge for minicabs, on the grounds that it discriminates against and breaches the human rights of a mainly BAME workforce.
The IWGB today issued a pre-action letter giving the Mayor until 6 March to reverse the policy before the union launches a judicial review in the High Court.
The introduction of the £11.50 congestion charge on minicab drivers is a case of indirect discrimination under the Equality Act. The charge is being imposed on a workforce that is mainly BAME (94% of London's 107,000 minicab drivers are BAME according to TFL), while black cab drivers, who are mostly white, continue to be exempt.
This policy is also in breach of a number of articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that cover discrimination, property rights, right to a family life and ability to carry out a profession.
The IWGB has launched a crowdfund campaign on Crowdjustice to raise £50,000 to finance the legal challenge and has assembled a legal team which includes renowned discrimination barristers Ben Collins QC,Nadia Motraghi and Tara O'Halloran of Old Square Chambers.
The legal action follows seven weeks of protests by minicab drivers that are demanding that the congestion charge be scrapped, as it represents an unfair burden on their already stretched budgets. The protests have seen hundreds of drivers block a number of major roads and bridges in the capital.
The IWGB has proposed a number of alternatives to this policy, including a cap on the total number minicab driver licenses, a levy on minicab operators such as Uber and Viavan, and the enforcement of worker rights by Transport for London (TfL)
IWGB United Private Hire Drivers branch secretary Yaseen Aslam said: “Four years ago I decided to take Uber to court because it was unlawfully depriving me of my basic employment rights. I didn't imagine then, that years later I would be forced to take legal action against Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for introducing a policy that discriminates against our community. We hope the Mayor sees sense and scraps this policy that promises to push thousands of drivers into deeper poverty.”
Minicab driver and IWGB UPHD London committee member Muhumed Ali said:“Uber drivers like myself are being squeezed. On one side we have the company that keeps us earning poverty wages and now, on the other, we have the TfL and Mayor Sadiq Khan looking to charge us £11.50 when we go into central London. It is completely discriminatory that we have to pay this charge while black cabs continue to be exempt. If Sadiq Khan doesn't reverse this policy we will continue to fight it in the courts and in the streets.”
The IWGB is the leading union for precarious workers. It has taken legal action against Uber, Deliveroo and several other so-called gig economy employers. Last year it organised the first nation-wide strike of Uber drivers.
On Tuesday, it co-organised, together with UVW, BEIS L&S PCS and RMT London Transport Regional Council, the first national day of action against outsourcing.