Motion passed by WBDTUC October 2018 in support of UNITE taxi drivers after Alan Lewis spoke at our delegate meeting was discussed by the Midlands TUC Executive Committee and we have received a response from Wolverhampton Council Leader.

Wolverhampton Bilston and District Trades Union Council condemns City of Wolverhampton Council for utilising Tory deregulation legislation in a way which harms the taxi industry; for example City of Wolverhampton Council has issued thousands of licences to drivers for use outside Wolverhampton in particular for Uber which apparently uses Wolverhampton due to its lower thresholds for operators and vehicles and lower licence prices, and which is contributing to the undermining of earnings of taxi drivers and threatens the future of the wheelchair accessible hackney carriages and private hire cabs bearing in mind that taxis are an integral part of our public transport system particularly late at night when other services shutdown. 

Moreover Uber appears to be challenging safety due to its apparent lack of vehicle age restriction and its apparent disregard for the total hours per week its drivers work (for Uber and at another job), thereby potentially breaching the weekly limit set in the Working Time Regulations.

Uber is running its business as a loss, apparently in order to drive out competition via a race to the bottom for standards.

We therefore call on all trade unionists and others to defend our taxi services and not to use Uber. 

We call on City of Wolverhampton Council to work with other West Midlands local authorities to:

1.  agree high quality standards for taxi operators and drivers and fair licence prices across the West Midlands for taxi operators.

2.  lobby national politicians to reverse the Tory legislation that:

(a) allows drivers to get licences from Local Authorities where they do not work

(b) allows operators to get licences from Local Authorities where they seldom operate

(c) prevents Local Authorities from setting a cap on the number of hackney carriage and private hire licences issued and operating in their area

 

 Responses

09 January 2019

Many thanks for your motion which went to the Regional Executive at the end of last year and my apologies for the short delay in responding.
As I said when you sent the motion through the most efficient way to deal with it was to put it to the first available meeting, which we did, the outcome of our discussions was as follows;
- There was unanimous support for the large part of the motion
- The only area of disagreement centred on the call to not use Uber. This was raised by the GMB who are currently attempting to organise Uber drivers, it was felt that a call to boycott could alienate the workers who the GMB are targeting.
- The call to lobby politicians to reverse legislation will be taken forward by me and raised during our Parliamentary meetings with the Midlands Parliamentary Labour Party.

Lee Barron
Regional Secretary Midlands TUC

 

12 December 2018
Call for City of Wolverhampton Council to work with other West Midlands local authorities.
Thank you for your letter on behalf of Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council, concerning the taxi industry, Uber and a call for City of Wolverhampton Council to agree to several items.
Uber is just one of many private hire firms. Uber give their drivers the option of which local authority they wish to apply to. The reason Wolverhampton is often the authority of choice is simply because of the speed of application. The red tape has been stripped out the process, without removing anything that is essential for public safety. The age of private hire vehicles is a condition-of licence set by the licensing authority, not UBER I can confirm that the
average age of the Uber fleet is significantly lower than the age of the hackney carriage fleet.
The Chair of licensing committee has written to Ministers on the matter of improving standards and bring about a minimum standard for licensed drivers. We are committed to working with other Local Authorities to, raise the standards and to ensure safeguarding and consistency.
The cost of licence should be fair, and Wolverhamptbn call on other Authorities to look at their cost of licence and reduce them in line with our charges. There must be questions being asked as to why Wolverhampton can licence a driver for £69 when Solihull are charging £108 and Dudley £124. Councils should not be using drivers as a cash-cow to offset other Council costs. We are more than willing to take on and operate licensing operations for other Councils if they wish.
The call to restrict where drivers and operators can obtain licences is not something we can support. Often remote areas such as South Staffordshire need to be serviced by drivers who do not necessarily always work in South Staffordshire. Often mini-cabs are used by vulnerable, low income members of society who cannot afford their own car, for example to attend hospital appointments. Furthermore, should a person, capable of meeting our high standards, wish to apply to become a driver to earn a living for himself and support his family, we should encourage that to tappen as quickly as possible.
The increase in the number of applications at Wolverhampton has enabled the expansion of the Licensing department, directly creating over 50 extra jobs, nearly all of these being taken by people living in Wolverhampton. Indirectly the expansion has encouraged the uptake of empty office space and created over 100 jobs in the City. The deregulation Act does not prevent the setting of a cap on the number of hackney carriage vehicles while capping the number of private hire vehicles has never been permitted.
We are committed to quality within the terms of any legislation while we reserve our right to lobby government to improve legislation to make safeguarding and public safety even more effective.
 
Councillor Roger Lawrence Leader of the Council

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Birmingham councillor calls to boycott Wolverhampton private hire drivers who operate in Birmingham. (Nov 18) https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/wolverhampton/2018/11/07/call-for-birmingham-boycott-over-row-on-wolverhampton-licenced-cabs/

Drivers for taxi app Addison Lee are workers and not self-employed, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled in a ‘huge win’ for workers’ rights. The ruling was hailed by the trade union GMB, which noted that drivers are legally entitled to holiday pay and the minimum wage.(Nov 18) https://metro.co.uk/2018/11/14/addison-lee-loses-tribunal-fight-with-drivers-over-workers-rights-8138726/

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/11/14/addison-lee-loses-tribunal-fight-with-drivers-over-workers-rights-8138726/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

 

Taxi drivers protest at Wolverhampton council over Uber licensing 


Thursday 28 June 2018 - Taxi drivers from Coventry caused disruption in the centre of Wolverhampton to protest over the council’s issuing of Uber licences.

The drivers are alarmed that Wolverhampton council has issued thousands of licences to Uber drivers, allowing them to operate in Coventry, bypassing that council’s rules and licensing regime.

Conservative Government
The Conservatives’ Deregulation Act means that drivers and operators no longer have to be in the same area. Therefore an Uber driver receiving a licence in Wolverhampton is allowed to operate anywhere in the UK.

The protest which will coincide with lunchtime traffic is set to cause congestion on the city’s roads.

 

Uber flood
The number of Uber drivers operating in Coventry is threatening the livelihoods of fully licensed taxi drivers in the city who have to comply with a large number of criteria and regulations, which the Uber drivers can ignore.

Unite regional officer Alan Lewis said: “Coventry taxi drivers who play by the rules are facing having their livelihoods cut from under them by the unthinking actions of Wolverhampton council.

“The Conservative government has paved the way for indiscriminate councils to freely issue licences to Uber and other organisations which directly undermine strict taxi standards in other neighbouring councils.

“Wolverhampton council needs to end the race to the bottom, immediately stop this practice and withdraw licences for drivers not based in their area.”