By Mike Hedges
Cross border hiring has become the biggest problem facing the taxi trade since the Tories passed the Deregulation Bill last year. This Bill allows operators from outside of the local licensing authority to accept bookings.
Before the Bill operators were only allowed to sub-contract bookings within their own area. Unite opposed this Bill as we said operators would use this legislation to completely undermine private hire regulations. This has proved to be the case. So in Liverpool, the council refuses to give Uber a licence but Uber operate there regardless.
One of the latest examples is in Bristol, where Uber is licensed. But because Bristol City Council insists that private Hire drivers complete a knowledge of Bristol and take a driving test, drivers are reluctant to join Uber in Bristol. So Uber have looked elsewhere for drivers. They have taken over 100 London licensed vehicles to Bristol and Bristol based drivers have obtained London private hire drivers licenses to allow them to drive these London licensed vehicles in Bristol.
It is outrageous that TfL are allowing Uber to operate in this way completely undermining the local drivers living standards and making a mockery of Bristol City Councils licensing standards.
It is against this background that Unite recently held an open meeting for taxi drivers in Bristol as there are many drivers that want to be organised to resist these attempts to undermine them. Unite has had members in Bristol for many years and now we are looking to increase this. Like many areas there are many issues that need resolving from age limits, the recent survey, rank spaces, and now Uber. A new committee has been formed and they will be looking to make changes.
With the election of Labour Mayors’ in Bristol and London, along with a Labour council in Bristol, the time is right to start making progress. The packed open meeting in Bristol showed that drivers are angry and want results and to protect themselves against the attacks that are coming at them. Joining the Unite Cab Section is the best means of doing this.