Independent Workers Union of Great Britain

IWGB welcomes APPG on Taxis report but asks for caution in the implementation of recommendations


12 July: The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain’s (IWGB) United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch welcomes the fact that the APPG on Taxis is proposing ways to tackle the oversupply of minicabs in London, but urges caution on the implementation of the recommendations, that could result in unwanted distortions that end up hurting drivers.

We call on the APPG to make a clear statement on the restriction on private hire licensing will be achieved.

The only way to protect private hire drivers from the current levels of ‘brutal exploitation’ and reduce congestion is to restrict the number of private hire driver licenses, rather than the number of private hire vehicle licenses.

If private hire vehicle licenses are restricted it will only benefit large corporate operators and their partners such as Uber, Addison Lee and Enterprise who will use their financial muscle to control the available licensed fleet. Drivers, already working under precarious employment contracts with no rights, will find themselves further undermined.

The IWGB is grateful for the opportunity to testify in the run up to the launch of today’s report, but we are disappointed that our recommendation to make operator licensing conditional on respect for driver worker rights was not in the final report. In light of our Employment Tribunal win against Uber, the Taylor Review and the report of Frank Field MP, which declared Uber labour ‘sweated labour’, this is a glaring omission which undermines the overall integrity of the APPG’s good work.

Frank Field MP has also called for worker protections to be made a condition of private hire operator licensing and last week John Hayes MP, Transport Minister agreed to set up an independent review of private hire driver pay and conditions in an effort to finally stamp out rampant labour abuses endemic in the private hire trade. We call on the APPG for Taxis to back this initiative.

James Farrar, Chair of the UPHD branch of the IWGB and co-lead claimant in the landmark employment tribunal case against Uber said:

While we welcome the recommendations of the APPG to cap the private hire trade in London, policy makers must take care not to undermine the already precarious conditions of private hire drivers. If vehicle licensing is restricted rather than driver licensing then power over the trade is placed in the hands of big fleet operators such as Addison Lee and Enterprise, who rent vehicles to drivers at extortionate rates.

The best solution to prevent further corporate abuse is to empower workers and increase service standards by restricting driver licensing rather than vehicle licensing. Policymakers must also make worker rights protection a condition of private hire operator licensing terms to ensure operators such as Uber and Addison Lee pay drivers fairly or lose their license to operate in London.”

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