Image source: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-60025205
In recent weeks taxi and private hire drivers have organised a series of protests across towns and cities in the north of England. The demonstrations reveal a high level of unrest and disgruntlement within the industry caused by a variety of issues. They include licensing rules, safety concerns and the impact of environmental legislation.
Leeds drivers Demonstrate Against Council’s Suitability and Convictions Policy
Taxi and private hire drivers in Leeds went on strike on the night of Saturday January 29th. They were protesting the Suitability and Convictions Policy, that the council put in place in February 2020. This is the third protest staged by Leeds taxi and private hire drivers in the space of a month.
Drivers could lose their ability to work for “relatively minor misdemeanours”
Ahmad Hussain, chairman of Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organisation (LPHDO), said: “If I had a little argument with family or heated conversation and the next-door neighbour called the police, and I’m not charged just given a caution, the council can take my badge off me. We’re trying to highlight the problem with the policy.”
LPHDO Vice Chairman, Zahid, said they will keep protesting until the policy is repealed. David Lawrie director of NPHTA said: “We fully support the strike action by our affiliate members, LPHDO, in Leeds last night. Great to see the majority of the trade standing together.”
Ahmad Hussain apologised to passengers for the strike disruption but said he and his colleagues had ‘no choice but to take action.
Hassain said that the organisation is genuinely sorry to the people who couldn’t get home as a result of the protests. However, they felt that they had no choice and that their livelihoods were being directly threatened.
Driver Protest in Bury Town Centre
Private and public hire drivers also protested in Bury due to worries about their safety after a driver was brutally attacked. A driver was left with severe facial injuries in a brutal knife assault. Driver assembled in support to pray for his recovery and to call for more action to protect Drivers.
Dave Lawrie, Director of the NPHTA, asked the crowd of taxi and private hire drivers in attendance, “Are we going to wait until someone gets badly hurt. No – the time for waiting is over. There have been stabbings. There has been a driver murdered in London. There have been stabbings in Glasgow. This is happening daily, monthly. Last month there was a driver viciously attacked, the month before there was a driver killed in Rochdale.”
The time for waiting is over
Lawrie said that it is time to stand together and create a united front. They need to make legislators see that they will not tolerate this anymore. He continued, “If you go into a council building, abuse will not be tolerated. If you go into a hospital, abuse will not be tolerated. And yet these thugs get into your cab, abuse you and get away with it. It needs to change and it needs to change now and it needs to change at Parliamentary level.”
Raja Naveed, Vice-Chairman of the Bury Private Hire Drivers’ Association said that the driver had been left with ‘lifechanging injuries’. Drivers are scared because this attack could have happened to any of them, and are prepared to strike again if nothing is done. Naveed says that his organisation will do everything they can to help Police do their job properly, but change has to come from above.
The private-hire community has made it clear that they will stand in solidarity with any driver who becomes a victim of violence while on the job. A clear statement has been made.
A suspect has now been charged with the crime, which has been categorised as attempted murder. DCI Joanne Kay from GMP’s Bury District said:
“I hope this arrest sends a strong message that this kind of violent behaviour will not be tolerated, and has no place in our communities.”
Protests in Rochdale, Bury and Bolton as clean air comes at too much of a cost for drivers.
The CAZ Initiative Causes Outrage in Rochdale
The Clean Air ‘minimum licensing standards’ (MLS) aims to save the environment by introducing new requirements around emissions and testing and accessibility.
However, taxi drivers across the north say this will all come at too much of a cost. A statement from the Rochdale Association for Private Hire Drivers said: “If the proposals go ahead, many drivers will be forced out of the trade, and those that continue will be hit with huge costs. “As a result of this, the prices paid for taxis by customers will be significantly increased at a time where the pandemic has already caused severe hardship.”
Drivers take to the streets for justice
A statement from the Rochdale Association for Private Hire Drivers said: “If the proposals go ahead, many drivers will be forced out of the trade and those that do continue will be hit with huge costs. “As a result of this, the prices paid for taxis by customers will be significantly increased at a time where the pandemic has already caused severe hardship.”
Drivers across Rochdale, Bury and Bolton support clean air, but feel that they are being unfairly targeted.
The RMBC in Rochdale believes that daily charges will not improve air quality. They said that the costs of meeting regulations were ‘quite ridiculous and completely wasteful’. They warned that restrictions could impose further disruptions to taxi services. The organisation believes that public safety will be compromised as a result of no longer being able to afford to travel.
Khalid Hussein, chairman of Bury’s Independent Hackney Association, added: “This protest is important because we are essentially self-employed and can’t cover these costs. They are imposing unreasonable conditions, and these charges must be scrapped for a different scheme.”
Sammy Patel, owner of Orbit Taxis in Bolton, added: “At the end of the day, it’s going down to the customers. It’s them that are going to pay for it because if we’re getting charged, then it’s going to follow on.”
Taxi & Private Hire Drivers Making Their Voice Heard
There is clearly a high level of unrest within the taxi and private hire community across the north of England. The cost of living crisis currently affecting society is no doubt contributing to a sense of anxiety, along with the completely unacceptable threat of violence in their workplace. Those in power should be attempting to alleviate their struggles during these highly challenging times. We applaud drivers for peacefully standing up for their rights and making their voices heard.