STRIKE: Taxi drivers brought London to a standstill last week
STRIKE: Taxi drivers brought London to a standstill last week

Cabbies turn back on trade in an over-saturated market

More than 5,000 taxi drivers pulled up their handbrakes and turned off their engines in London last week as the city came to a standstill for a stationary protest.

London cabbies were taking a stand against what they said were ‘threats to passenger safety and deregulation’ amidst the rise of Uber across the country.

With the number of private hire drivers in the capital rising from 34,000 in 2008 to 96,500 today, the market has become increasingly saturated.

Union group ‘Unite’, which took part in last week’s demonstration, called on the government for a level playing field.

Amongst demands being made for Uber – which operates self-employed private hire drivers and is based for UK tax purposes in Holland – was a proper rate of corporation tax to be paid into the UK.

Chair of the Unite London & Eastern taxi cab section Jim Kelly said: “It is clear that the government, London mayor Boris Johnson and the Tory candidate for mayor Zac Goldsmith have all seriously taken against the black taxi trade in London, a taxi trade which consistently comes out top in terms of value and service compared to other cities around the globe.”

He continued: “We feel that Uber exploits its drivers by using their self-employed status to extract maximum income from them which translates to those drivers working long hours.

“The reduction in safety for passengers because of the ‘light touch’ regime is to be deplored. It is a race-to-the bottom – when in 2016 we want the highest possible standards.

“The London taxi fleet is 100 per cent wheelchair accessible. There is no compulsion on private hire operators such as Uber to provide for these passengers.”

The taxi trade protest began at 2.30pm in Whitehall, London, on Wednesday 10th February.

Unite, the country largest union representing many of London’s 25,000 taxi drivers, said the issues facing taxi drivers in the capital were mirrored across the UK.