IWGB to continue campaigning to scrap the congestion charge on London minicabs
5 August: The IWGB will continue to campaign for the scrapping of the congestion charge on London minicabs, following the decision by the Court of Appeal that the disproportionate impact this charge has on BAME drivers does not consitute indirect discrimination.
The decision of the court is disappointing to drivers who are currently facing the combined financial pressures of unscrupulous operators, the congestion charge and a fall in demand as a result of Covid-19. On 22 June, the congestion charge was increased by 30 percent to £15 per day.
Despite this setback, drivers' determination to fight this charge has not waned. A protest last week opposing the charge, the first since the pandemic began, amassed around 100 drivers at Tower Bridge. Protests are now being planned for the coming months.
IWGB President Henry Chango Lopez said: “The court confirmed what we have stated all along, that the Mayor's decision had a disproportionate impact on black minority ethnic minicab drivers. Sadly, it did not consider that the congestion charge on minicabs was unlawful. While this is a setback, we are determined to continue fighting against this policy, which is having a crushing impact on some of the most marginalised workers in London.”
In her judgement, Lady Justice Simler stated that: “This significant disparity of impact between black and minority ethnic minicab drivers on low incomes on the one hand and white taxi drivers on the other is stark and has raised legitimate questions about the measure adopted by the Mayor. It has made this appeal particularly troubling.”
She went on to say that “the Mayor (and Transport for London) plainly recognised the adverse impact on minicab drivers, 71% of whom live in the most deprived areas of London, with mean annual earnings less than £23,000 per annum net.”
The judgement also cited Transport for London’s impact assessment which stated that the congestion charge “may put pressure on earnings for PHV operators and drivers. This could result in negative health outcomes for individuals. It may be difficult for some individuals to cover these costs and as such the removal of the exemption may lead to stress related and mental health issues for PHV drivers. It may also impact on physical health as a result of potential longer working hours.”
The IWGB can confirm that a growing number of drivers are approaching the union citing increased levels of stress resulting from the charge and the impact it has had on their already meagre earnings.
The union has proposed alternatives to reduce congestion fairly, including a cap on the total number of private hire licenses, making worker rights a condition of license or a levy on private hire operators such as Uber.
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