IWGB launches campaign demanding TfL and Mayor take action over driver exploitation

IWGB Archives

30 July 2018

  • Union demands worker rights protection for minicab drivers by the licensing regulator
  • Gig workers in the minicab industry demand regulatory and cost burden be reduced and shifted to corporate operators such as Uber and Addison Lee
  • Minicab drivers demand end to TfL’s refusal to recognise their trade union representation and accuse the regulator of institutional racism
  • With more than 50% of minicab drivers experiencing assault at work and with 83% of drivers victims of hate crime, IWGB demands swift action to protect driver and passenger safety and security

The Independent Worker’s Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is today launching a campaign demanding Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan make worker rights a condition of minicab operator license, reduce the disproportionate regulatory cost burden on minicab drivers, improve representation of minicab drivers within TfL and act to reduce the astronomical rate of attacks on minicab drivers.

London’s 114,000 licensed minicab drivers are currently being squeezed between companies such as Uber and Addison Leer, which deny them basic employment rights and regularly pay them below the minimum wage, and an institutionally racist TfL which is increasing the license and congestion charge costs for these drivers but failing to protect them from exploitation and abuse.

That is why The IWGB has today written to TfL, the Mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly demanding:

  • Improve the representation of Minicab drivers in TfL’s stakeholder programme: While there are five different representative bodies for London’s 23,000 black cab drivers and one body that represents black cabs, minicab drivers and minicab operators included in TfL’s stakeholder programme, there isn’t a single body, which exclusively represents London’s 111,000 minicab drivers. TfL has not only ignored the Metropolitan Police’s recommendation that The IWGB be recognised in the stakeholder process, it also advised the Metropolitan Police not to cooperate with the union on matters of driver and passenger safety. We are also demanding the removal of individuals from the existing stakeholder how have expressed hate and/or extremist right wing views.

  • Reduce the regulatory cost burden on drivers: Drivers have been slammed with new testing costs, including new language tests and advanced driver tests. While the union welcomes higher standards, the cost should be passed on to the operator and not the low-paid driver. TfL is also lifting the congestion charge exemption on drivers, increasing drivers’ costs by an extra £250 per month. Rather than reducing congestion in London, this will likely have the opposite effect as drivers will have to spend more time on the road to cover the lost earnings.

  • That TfL make a respect for basic worker rights a condition of license: Private hire companies such as Uber and Addison Lee are currently getting away with denying drivers basic rights such as a guaranteed minimum wage and holiday pay, despite several tribunal rulings stating that this is unlawful. The poverty wages paid by these companies forces many drivers to work up to 90 hours a week to get by. Last year Frank Field MP investigated the sector and concluded that drivers were working in ‘sweated labour’ conditions.

  • That TfL take urgent action to reduce the rate of violence and abuse experienced by minicab drivers. 55% of London’s minicab drivers have been physically assaulted and 83% have been victims of hate crime. Unfortunately, here too drivers have been squeezed between uncaring operators and a negligent regulator.

A protest will be held in support of these demands outside City Hall from 9am on 25 July, to coincide with the regulator’s quarterly board meeting.

James Farrar, Chair of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union said:

The Mayor and Transport for London have pursued a cheap minicabs policy while remaining wilfully blind to the resulting worker rights catastrophe. It’s time for the Mayor to defend London’s most vulnerable workers not foster their further exploitation.

The IWGB is the leading union for workers in the so-called “gig economy”, having defeated companies such as Uber, City Sprint and Addison Lee in different tribunals. It recently took out cases against private hire companies Green Tomato Cars, A2B Radio Cars.