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4 July: The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) will be arguing at the High Court on 10 and 11 July that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's decision to introduce a congestion charge on minicabs discriminates against and breaches the human rights of a mainly BAME workforce.
The IWGB is seeking a judicial review of Khan's decision to introduce the £11.50 charge on the grounds that it is a case of indirect discrimination under the Equality Act. The charge is being imposed on a workforce that is mainly BAME (94% of London's 107,000 minicab drivers are BAME according to TFL), while black cab drivers, who are mostly white, continue to be exempt.
This policy is also in breach of a number of articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that cover discrimination, property rights, right to a family life and ability to carry out a profession.
The IWGB has assembled a legal team which includes renowned discrimination barristers Ben Collins QC,Nadia Motraghi and Tara O'Halloran of Old Square Chambers, and TMP Solicitors founding partner Jacqueline McGuigan.
The IWGB has proposed a number of alternatives to this policy, including a cap on the total number minicab driver licenses, a levy on minicab operators such as Uber and Viavan, and the enforcement of worker rights by Transport for London (TfL).
Discrimination also runs throughout London's enforcement regime. The most recent figures released by TfL show minicabs are almost three times as likely to be stopped by enforcement officers as black cabs, despite the fact that TfL's own statistics show that on average minicabs are more compliant than black cabs.
IWGB United Private Hire Drivers branch secretary Yaseen Aslam said: “We know who created the congestion mess in London. It was operators like Uber flooding the streets with cars while Transport for London was asleep at the wheel. Now, instead of capping the total number minicab licenses or making Uber pay, Mayor Sadiq Khan is chosing to punish BAME drivers who are only trying to make an honest living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. This is discriminatory, cruel and regressive, and we will not stop until we get justice.”
Minicab driver and IWGB BAME officer Muhumed Ali said: “For years we have been asking Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London to do their job and regulate rogue minicab operators such as Uber. Instead of challenging these multinational companies, the Mayor has decided to lay the cost of out of control licensing on precarious drivers on poverty pay. Now it is up to us to make sure this discriminatory policy is scrapped.”
The legal action follows seven weeks of protests earlier this year by minicab drivers that are demanding that the congestion charge be scrapped, as it represents an unfair burden on their already stretched budgets. The protests have seen hundreds of drivers block a number of major roads and bridges in the capital.
The IWGB is the leading union for precarious workers. It has taken legal action against Uber, Deliveroo, Addison Lee and several other so-called gig economy employers. Last year it organised the first nation-wide strike of Uber drivers and the biggest strike of outsourced workers in the UK higher-education history.
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Emiliano Mellino, press officer