Tom Watson MP, Sadiq Khan MP, Grahame Morris MP
and Val Shawcross AM speak at
Unite Open taxi Trade meeting against Uber
On Tuesday 21st July Unite Cab Section invited London taxi drivers to attend an open meeting to discuss how Unite could lead the challenge to Uber in London and the rest of the country. The Diskus conference centre at Unite’s National Headquarters in Holborn was full, with over 120 drivers attending keen to hear how they could become involved in the fightback against Uber.
Jim Kelly, Chair of the Unite Cab Section Cab Trade Advisory Committee, opened the meeting and outlined how Unite was instrumental in the last parliament in defeating the Law Commissions proposals and leading the fight against the De-Regulation Bill. He spoke about the need to adopt a tougher approach towards Uber and to strictly enforce the law and regulations. If Uber is allowed to continue to grow unhindered then they threaten to undermine the whole fabric of taxi and private hire licensing and initiate a race to the bottom of standards, whilst looking to increase prices and profits.
Val Shawcross AM, spoke first and outlined how she felt that the London Assembly Transport Committee ‘Future Proof’ report, which heavily criticised the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL), had made a big difference in changing attitudes towards Uber, regulation and enforcement within TfL and the Mayors office. Val cited the Private Hire Regulations Consultation, which is a serious attempt to strengthen the private hire regulations in London. Val said how she has noticed a distinct change in attitude and that now TfL, and in particular, the Deputy Mayor are taking a much tougher attitude towards ensuring the consultation delivers the required results.
Sadiq Khan MP, spoke next about his vision for London and the scope that the Mayor of London has to challenge the growth of Uber. He was fully supportive of the fight to stop the race to the bottom of standards that Uber enshrines. He talked about the need to raise standards and ensure public safety and highlighted how Uber does not have any provision to cater for passengers with disabilities.
Grahame Morris MP, emphasised the need to define plying for hire and how outrageous it is that Uber can show the position of its cars on the phone screen before the booking is made. He said this is ‘plying for hire’ which is the unique preserve of Hackney Carriages. He said e-hailing is wrong and clearly against the spirit of the law and showed be outlawed.
Tom Watson MP, spoke about the way that parliament can be used to forensically analyse the relationship’s that are taking place between Uber, the government and the regulators. Tom spoke about how he had become interested in Uber and has been asking parliamentary questions and looking to use parliamentary committees to delve into the deeper workings of relationships and ties between the various interested parties. Tom spoke about how he will quietly get on with this over the summer and promised to keep Unite updated on his progress.
The meeting finished by Peter Bond and Mike Hedges speaking about the need to take the fight out to Tfl and to use parliament to its full extent to challenge the Uber concept. They emphasised how Unite has over 100 MP’s in Parliament and only Unite has the national organisation, the strength and the knowledge to defeat Uber.
The meeting was a great starting point, but it is only the starting point. Uber has no place on the streets of London, Unite with us to ensure the future of the taxi trade.