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5,000 taxi drivers set to protest in London today over threats to passenger safety and deregulation

Unite Press Release

London taxi drivers fed up with the government’s ‘race to the bottom’ in deregulating the trade, with an adverse impact on passenger safety will be protesting in central London today (Wednesday 10 February).

More than 5,000 taxi drivers are set to protest at what they consider as government bias against the black cab trade and the promotion of private hire firms by ‘light touch’ regulation at the expense of passenger safety.

The taxi trade protest will be held today (Wednesday 10 February) from 14:30 in Whitehall, London, SW1.

Unite, the country largest union representing many of London’s 25,000 taxi drivers, said the issues facing taxi drivers in the capital were mirrored across the UK.

Unite called for standards for the black taxi and private hire sectors to be raised upwards and an end to ‘a race to the bottom’. It claims the recent private hire review in London was influenced by ‘threats’ from business secretary Sajid Javid.

An opportunity to deal with many safety issues associated with the arrival of ‘app’ based private hire operations was missed, said the union.

The union said that in 2008 there were about 34,000 private hire drivers in London and this had now jumped to 96,500 and was increasing by at least 10,000 a year, which meant that the market was ‘flooded’. The rapid increase in the private hire sector has had an adverse impact on air quality and the environment in London,

Chair of the Unite London & Eastern taxi cab section, Jim Kelly said:

“It is clear that the government, London mayor Boris Johnson and the Tory candidate for mayor Zac Goldsmith have all seriously taken against the black taxi trade in London, a taxi trade which consistently comes out top in terms of value and service compared to other cities around the globe.

“We feel that Uber exploits its drivers by using their self-employed status to extract maximum income from them which translates to those drivers working long hours.

“The reduction in safety for passengers because of the ‘light touch’ regime is to be deplored. It is a race-to-the bottom – when in 2016 we want the highest possible standards.

“The London taxi fleet is 100 per cent wheelchair accessible. There is no compulsion on private hire operators such as Uber to provide for these passengers.”

Unite, which is taking part in tomorrow’s demo called on the government for a level playing field. Its demands included:

  • that Uber, which operates self-employed private hire drivers and is based for UK tax purposes in Holland, pays the proper rate of corporation tax in the UK.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web:

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

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