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Unite the union open meeting for the taxi trade – Report

By Peter J Rose @peterjrose1

Last week Unite the union Cab section once again opened its doors to the taxi trade for a meeting centred around the global fightback against Uber.

Unite’s Mike Hedges opened the meeting by introducing speakers from unions representing taxi drivers in Europe and Canada. UK taxi drivers that came were relayed details of how the American ‘Tech’ company Uber is circumnavigating regulations across the world, to the detriment of existing taxi services.

There can be no doubt that Uber is using disruptive tactics to pursue a deregulatory agenda. Something the British Tory Government has been only to willing to accommodate with its Law Commission’s review and Deregulation Bill.

Mac Urata, Secretary of the International Transport Federation (ITF), which represents taxi unions across the world fighting Uber, started the evening with a history of Uber and a summary of how it is financed. Pointing out that it is not paying ‘proper’ taxes.

He also outlined the tricks it uses to further its cause. Such as, never price surging during transport strikes, which includes taxi strikes. Thus portraying itself as the good guy.

The ITF’s Clare Clarke went on from there talking about Uber’s drivers, saying:

“Uber ‘partners’ are finding the going tough, earning below minimum wage. They are subject to Uber reducing fares without consultation with its workers. For example, Detroit Uber drivers are only earning 30 cents per mile!”.

“This is forcing Uber drivers to work long hours. Sometimes having to sleep in the vehicles – Uber drivers have no workers rights”.

From Canada, the meeting heard from:

Bob Orr, Unifor (Canada) who reminded the meeting that:

“Uber was operating where there was no public outcry for deregulation”

Bob’s Unifor colleague, Peter Kennedy, said: 

“It is the responsibility of governments to enforce the law. Uber should not be allowed to operate unregulated. Unfortunately, Toronto’s Mayor has been unwilling to tackle Uber. In Canada, Edmonton is the only city that has that has regulated Uber. There is no doubt that it is operating as a taxi service and it should be treated as such”.

Back on this side of the pond…

Frank Moreels of Belgische TransportBond, (Belgium) told the meeting:

“The world’s taxi industry should continue on a strategy of promoting innovation. Getting taxis on to apps of their own was the way forward”.

He went on to explain how fighting Uber in his own country was difficult because of its regionally led form of government.

“Trying to get consensus across all the districts is extremely hard”.

Karim Asnoune from the French CGT Union, outlined the situation in France. Which was of particular interest because of their recent demonstrations.

On the day of the meeting, came the news that Uber is to turn the the European Commission to overturn a law that compels french private hire to return to base between bookings.

*Uber was refused a license to operate in Reading because of a similar condition.

At the end of the meeting all agreed that ultimately the Uber problem and the so called wider sharing economy will be solved politically.

On the 5th of May Londoner’s can start to make that change by voting for Labour’s Sadiq Khan for Mayor.


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