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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:51 pm 
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The plight of Cambs' taxi drivers 'at the mercy of big companies'

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/c ... l-16744134

Drivers claim they are self-employed and claim the companies are unfairly threatening to take away their work

Self-employed taxi drivers in south Cambridgeshire have claimed the area’s big taxi companies are threatening their livelihoods if they are found working for more than one firm.

The Cambridge Taxi Drivers’ Association, which claims to represent around 200 drivers, says new rules are enabling companies to catch drivers working with rivals, especially Uber.

But the drivers claim they are self-employed and the companies are unfairly threatening to take away their work.

A newly enforced South Cambridgeshire District Council policy requires all taxi drivers to display company branding on the exterior of vehicles.

Drivers can purchase magnetic signs which can be placed on and removed from the exterior of the doors.

The stated purpose of the policy is public safety – with customers and residents clearly able to tell which company the driver and vehicle is associated with.

The policy, which the council says is common across the country, was introduced in April last year, but drivers were given an extended grace period to comply.

An online petition set up four months ago by the drivers’ association is calling on South Cambridgeshire to change the policy, and has been signed by more than 150 people.

Claims it's "preventing drivers working for different companies"

Nassir Uddin, general secretary of the Cambridge Taxi Drivers’ Association, said the policy is “preventing drivers working for different companies”.

He said: “If drivers are self employed they should be able to work with whoever they want to”.

Mr Uddin also said the need to get out of the vehicle to change the signs could be dangerous on busy roads, and may also make drivers vulnerable to crime.

Spokesman for the group, Tariq Ahmed, 39, said: “The taxi companies are clearly saying to drivers if we find you working for someone else we will stop giving you work”.

Mr Ahmed named Panther Taxis, CamCab and A1 Cabco as those warning drivers not to work for other companies.

All three taxi companies declined to comment.

Mr Ahmed said: “Drivers sometimes work with two or three companies. With one company you are not guaranteed work.

“The consequence is to make £100 with one company you have to work 12 to 15 hours on the road. If you work for more than one company in less than 10 hours you can make your £100 and go home.

“With the new signs, drivers are being told they might not get any work if they are seen driving for another company."

He said he thinks the council “are trying to do the right thing” but said the policy is negatively affecting the drivers.

He said: “If we don’t have the council on our side we are at the mercy of the operators."

Both Mr Ahmed said Mr Uddin said they were aware of drivers claiming to have lost work in this way, but did not specify which companies were involved.

Mr Uddin said he was working with South Cambridgeshire District Council on a resolution.

A WhatsApp purportedly from Panther to drivers, sent in 2016 well before the policy change, and seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, said: “Uber are said to be launching in Cambridge today, we firmly believe they are locusts who will destroy our trade if we give them an opportunity to do so.

“Despite what they may tell you, we will not allow any driver to work for both Panther and Uber. Any driver caught trying to use both systems will have Panther’s services withdrawn from them immediately and is unlikely to be allowed back on our circuit.

“We will be looking out for anyone who thinks they can try their luck and respectfully ask anyone who sees a driver they know to be on Panther who is working for Uber to take a photograph proving this and sending to us via WhatsApp.”

The message ends by saying it is only for recipients and is not to be shared.

The company declined to comment on the authenticity of the message.

What does the district council say?

South Cambridgeshire District Council said 100 signatures is enough for a petition to be debated at a meeting of full council if submitted.

And a spokesperson said the council is currently consulting on a new taxi licensing policy, where this petition can be considered.

They rejected the association’s claim that its drivers were not consulted.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s lead cabinet member for licensing, Cllr Bill Handley, said: “In April 2018, we made private hire operators and drivers aware that we would soon introduce a licence condition requiring that a sign with the name and telephone number of the operator be displayed on their vehicles.

“As part of a two-month consultation in 2017 we asked drivers, operators and passengers for their thoughts on the policy and we received plenty of positive feedback. Door signage like this is extremely common throughout the country; since it makes it crystal-clear which company the driver works for.

“We gave drivers and operators plenty of time to organise it and we now expect them to comply. We appreciate that some drivers work for more than one operator, but the signs can be magnetic, so they can easily be attached and removed.

“Our priority is the safety of the public and drivers. If anyone, including passers-by, have concerns about a vehicle, its driver or passengers they can immediately see who they should call or refer to. We know operators receive such calls, so it works.”


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:54 pm 
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Quote:
Nassir Uddin, general secretary of the Cambridge Taxi Drivers’ Association, said the policy is “preventing drivers working for different companies”.

He said: “If drivers are self employed they should be able to work with whoever they want to”.


I'm in two minds about this - they're right about the self-employment point, but on the other hand it's a bit much to be secretly working for several different platforms if any of the platforms object to this.

Quote:
Mr Uddin also said the need to get out of the vehicle to change the signs could be dangerous on busy roads, and may also make drivers vulnerable to crime.


Musical taxis. All sounds a bit desperate, to be honest.

Can understand the inconvenience of it all, but are there really safety implications, and if so what kind of total farce does it represent?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:12 pm 
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Quote:
He said: “If drivers are self employed they should be able to work with whoever they want to”.

Can't really argue with that.

However traditional firms are feeling the pressure and need to put in place policies to survive.

That said, in 5-10 years time I can see drivers with multiple apps being the norm.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:11 am 
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Frankly I'm firmly on the driver's side here. The firms want the benefits of having self-employed drivers in terms of not having to pay holidays etc and not having to pay VAT on the fares but want to control the drivers as if they were employees.

The two big local firms here did very much the same thing when uber came to town. I'm surprised that someone who was getting out of the trade anyway never challenged them on it because it would be a fairly easy win at tribunal.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:40 pm 
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It's difficult but could the drivers not have their own door signs stating Joe Bloggs PH contractor or something and be truly freelance having several apps

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 4:07 pm 
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edders23 wrote:
It's difficult but could the drivers not have their own door signs stating Joe Bloggs PH contractor or something and be truly freelance having several apps



They would have to have their own p/h operators license,the article is such a mess it does not distinguish between TAXIS and private hire vehicles.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 4:30 pm 
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heathcote wrote:
edders23 wrote:
It's difficult but could the drivers not have their own door signs stating Joe Bloggs PH contractor or something and be truly freelance having several apps



They would have to have their own p/h operators license,the article is such a mess it does not distinguish between TAXIS and private hire vehicles.



perhaps that is the way forward drivers have their own ops license and car license and take work where they want to with firms competing to get them to take the work

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:48 pm 
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edders23 wrote:
It's difficult but could the drivers not have their own door signs stating Joe Bloggs PH contractor or something and be truly freelance having several apps

Or just a generic one giving their local licensing area's name and maybe the council's emblem.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:45 am 
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heathcote wrote:
They would have to have their own p/h operators license,the article is such a mess it does not distinguish between TAXIS and private hire vehicles.


I was actually going to remark that it was quite a good article in terms of explaining the issue quite well.

But I tend to ignore the word taxi unless it's relevant to the point being made, but because the piece seemed to be self-evidently about PH operators then I didn't really think about it too much [-(


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:47 am 
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Sussex wrote:
edders23 wrote:
It's difficult but could the drivers not have their own door signs stating Joe Bloggs PH contractor or something and be truly freelance having several apps

Or just a generic one giving their local licensing area's name and maybe the council's emblem.


Problem with both these suggestions is that it wouldn't include the name of the operator that the punter has booked the car with - presumably it's that aspect of identification that provides the rule's, er, rationale :oops:


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:48 am 
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StuartW wrote:
Sussex wrote:
edders23 wrote:
It's difficult but could the drivers not have their own door signs stating Joe Bloggs PH contractor or something and be truly freelance having several apps

Or just a generic one giving their local licensing area's name and maybe the council's emblem.


Problem with both these suggestions is that it wouldn't include the name of the operator that the punter has booked the car with - presumably it's that aspect of identification that provides the rule's, er, rationale :oops:


If the Op subbed the work out to another operator it would have the wrong one anyway. The LA's stance is incompatible with the realities of current legislation.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:13 am 
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Karga wrote:
If the Op subbed the work out to another operator it would have the wrong one anyway. The LA's stance is incompatible with the realities of current legislation.


Indeed, and maybe that's another reason they're having to carry so many different signs in South Cambs :D

So the subbing problem is not insurmountable in terms of IDing the original recipient of the booking - no door sign, no subbing :badgrin:


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 11:26 am 
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StuartW wrote:
So the subbing problem is not insurmountable in terms of IDing the original recipient of the booking - no door sign, no subbing :badgrin:


Sub it out to a an op in another LA. Then they can go whistle.


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