Private hire and London taxi drivers could be set to join forces in a national day of protestA nationwide demonstration is planned as part of a coordinated action that’s calling for a public inquiry into the issuing of Uber’s operating licence by TfL. The campaign also includes an online petition has also been created on Change.org. Its states that there should be an immediate suspension of Uber’s operating license pending the inquiry. So far (at time of writing) over 1,100 signatures have been received. 350 more are needed to pass the petition’s stated target of 1500. It is not clear which organisation created the petition or whether passing that mark will trigger a compulsory action on behalf of the powers that be. Both the GMB Union’s Drivers Branch and the LPHCA have confirmed to Plan that they are not involved. The campaign states, “TFL have made many improper decisions in relation to Taxis and Private Hire.” These decisions include, “the issuance of 2500 Private Hire Licenses each month without proper checks.” The campaign raises familiar grievances that have been mentioned several times in recent years with little joy. However this particular movement appears to have achieved what many others have failed to do. That is gain support from across numerous trade organisations. Surprisingly that support even appears to have spread to the London black taxi industry. London black cab driver Harry Wall sparked a debate on social media with a blog titled, “Is My Enemies Enemy My Friend?” Posted on Taxi Leaks, a blog popular with London Cabbies, he calls for the trade to temporarily put history to one side and join private hire drivers in a fight against a common enemy. Mr Wall criticises the black cab trades response to Uber as being, “predictable” and “fragmented” with “no joint leadership or strategy.” He believes the announcement by associations from across the country calling for an urgent public inquiry could be the “touch paper” that sees real results. He freely admits that,
“The idea of going in with PH, given our history of mutual dislike, doesn’t sit well with me but we’re in desperate times and desperate measures must prevail.”On that basis after much consideration he has had a “change of mind” and believes fellow London cabbies should join the demonstration. He expects to be called a “sell out” by many of his black cab colleagues but he feels the trade, “badly needs the public inquiry” after their own endeavours have proven “fruitless.” He may be pleasantly surprised to learn that fellow 80% of fellow cabbies on Twitter voted in favour of a joint action with the private hire industry. So there could be a momentary let up in the animosity felt by London cabbies to their private hire counterparts. Yet if Mr Wall has anything to do with it, it will be short lived. “Once the battle is won” he plans to “draw up the boundary lines and carry on as before.” It will be interesting to see if the proposed demonstration leads to unprecedented action, “on a scale the media cannot afford to ignore” like Mr Wall hopes? Whether the various private hire associations involved will welcome the support of the London cab trade after so much mud has been slung over the years also remains to be seen?