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The taxi trade is facing many difficult decisions in the next twelve months.

By Jim Kelly: Chair, Unite the union Cab Trade Advisory Committee. 

The re-election of an extreme right wing Tory Party which has attempted to deregulate the country’s taxi trade on a number of occasions is an enormous setback for our trade. The Tory Law Commission Report contains many clauses which will severely erode our working conditions and begin a race to the bottom nationally, will soon be taken off the shelf and will be pushed through Parliament without a strong, united response from the taxi trade nationally.

Unite Cab Section has been at the forefront of campaigns against these attacks over many decades. This has included Parliamentary lobbying, working with the Labour Party, but also direct action on the streets, including boycotts of stations and drive-ins, not only in London, but also other metropolitan areas of the UK. The most recent was our organising of the two “drive- ins” last year in central London with both the LTDA & LCDC, which attracted many thousands of drivers.

Direct action on the streets, which runs the risk of alienating the travelling public should not be treated lightly, nor should it be the first or only recourse, but should be part of a strategy involving discussions with the licensing authority and, as importantly, should be aimed at mobilising drivers and uniting the London trade. It should have a clear achievable aim.

Uber and ULEZ, would be a threat to our working conditions without the Law Commission Report, which Unite has campaigned with other unions and associations against. Always our first step is to seek a consensus around tactics, strategy and achievable goals. Without these elements we run the risk of setting back our campaigns.

Unite, LCDC & LTDA have been involved in talks with many parties to ensure UBER is forced to comply with PH regulations, in this we have much in common with the Private Hire operators as well as PH drivers.

There is no killer blow which will make UBER go away. The only option on the table is to ensure PH regulations are fit for purpose and are complied with. Too many licensing authorities around the globe have capitulated to UBER bullying tactics, we need to ensure LTPH grows a back bone on this issue.

The two tier licensed system enshrined in the 1998 PH Act needs to be strengthened, there should be no room on London’s streets for an unlicensed third tier, which is in effect what UBER would like to create.

Will the demonstration called solely by the UCG, achieve anything real? Has the UCG sat down and discussed this with any other trade unions or associations? Will it help or hinder our interests in stopping the imposition of a draconian 10 year Age Limit? Will it put more money on the table for possible subsidy of new Zero Emission Cabs? Will it lead to Uber’s licence being revoked? What does it want, the sacking of Peter Hendey possibly? I wouldn’t put too much money on that at present.

Maybe there’s more, Unite is unsure because we were not included in the planning/discussion stage and no information on the their website. Is there one goal or several? Because of the Mayor’s announcement yesterday regarding minicab numbers, the current review of London Private Hire regulations plus the imminent conclusion to the ULEZ proposals as well court action regarding the Uber’s use of a meter to calculate fares, the UCG should meet with UNITE, LCDC, LTDA & RMT to discuss tactics.

Unite believes such a meeting – which is now planned for Monday 18/05/15 –  would be useful before the planned demonstration.

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