Friday, March 07, 2014
'Unprecedented' complaints against TfL boss include sexual harassment and 45 accusations of bullying
Following on from the scandal where Sir Peyer Hendy was exposed as paying prostitute Rachael Grundy £140 an hour after surfing an adult sex website, now a senior Transport for London manager tipped as a rising star of the organisation has been accused of sexual harassment by one woman and bullying by a staggering 45 colleagues, as revealed in the Evening Standard.
The article states:
Staff have alleged that the man bullied and intimidated them, with one female also accusing him of sexual harassment.
Insiders called the mass grievance lodged against him as “unprecedented” at the company, with the accusations now threatening to derail his career.
They also claimed the company had been slow to act after concerns were first raised - so much so that police had even been dragged into the dispute.
A source told the Standard: “The staff have lodged a formal grievance collectively. It’s unprecedented at TfL because of the numbers.
“The allegations are that he is a bully. That he intimidates people. One of the complaints is sexual harassment. There is an investigation going on at the moment but it took so long for them to act over it that the police were called.”
Another source said: “The woman involved called police because she felt TfL management and HR were doing nothing about it.”
It is understood the manager has not been suspended but is currently not working in his post.
The grievance was lodged before Christmas, with the alleged behaviour going on “for some time”.
News of the allegations will be a disappointment to TfL boss Sir Peter Hendy, although after Hendy's adulterous indiscretion, which was quickly swept under the carpet, this now seems a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
The organisation allegedly takes a hard line approach to harassment, with staff told that they must not do anything “whilst on or off duty which could damage TfL’s reputation”.
Bosses are currently investigating the allegations.
They will then file a report, and the investigation officer will decide what sanctions, if any, to apply if the allegations are proven
Unions Unite and Unison are understood to be representing the staff complaining. A Unison spokeswoman confirmed it was currently involved in a “serious matter” involving members at TfL.
She said: “There is an ongoing internal investigation related to serious allegations at TfL. It is therefore inappropriate for us to comment any further at this stage of the process.”
A TfL spokesman said: “We take any allegations of harassment very seriously with firm policies and procedures in place.
“In this case an independent investigation is already under way.”
Unfortunately we have seen TfL policy counts for nothing when it comes to the crunch. After private hire company RD2.com was accused of gaining 18 satellite office licences contra to TfL policy, Taxi Leaks was told they could and would do what ever they liked and that policy was just guild lines and not set in stone.
Expect this story to disappear under a blanket of silence.
Posted by Editorial at 12:35 PM
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
A friend of mine has now been waiting 90 days for his CRB check to come back. His licence has now run out and he is effectively out of work. I spoke to him last night and his last words to me was:
"How much worst can it get Jim?"
Then I received this press release this afternoon from TPH enquiries:
TPH notice 02/14 - Disclosure and Barring Service - Service Availability 7-12 March 2014
Please find attached a copy of TPH Notices 02/14 Disclosure and Barring Service - Service Availability 7-12 March 2014
Transport for London – London Taxi and Private Hire
Disclosure and Barring Service Service availability between 7 - 12 March 2014
Important information regarding the Disclosure and Barring Service this weekend
We have been notified by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) that they are making changes to their IT systems and infrastructure and this will temporarily affect their ability to receive and process DBS applications from 7 March to 12 March inclusive.
This is part of wider changes they are making in order to modernise their service.
While you will still be able to make an application via the Post Office the following services will be affected:
E-numbers may not be available within 3 working days
Online use of the Update Service and online tracking of applications using the DBS tracking service will not be possible between 17:00 on Friday 7 March and 08:00 on Wednesday 12 March
Some disclosures may take a few extra days to be issued
We have been notified that the DBS call centre will remain open for general enquiries only during this period. Should you wish to contact them by telephone the number is 0870 90 90 811 but they have advised that they will not be able to answer enquiries about the progress of an application or to discuss the content of a disclosure.
Further information can be found here DBS Website
TfL has highlighted our concerns relating to this change and the DBS has
assured us that any impact will be kept to a minimum.
Potential further delays due to industrial action
We have also been notified by the DBS that there may be further disruption due to industrial action by their suppliers on 6 and 7 March. The DBS has assured us they will do everything possible to minimise the disruption if the industrial action goes ahead as planned.
05 March 2014 Interim General Manager
Why are Taxi drivers having to suffer being put out of work, just to facilitate the modernisation of a system that used to work like clockwork and now doesn't.
Temporary licenses are issued in every other licensing authority in the country, except for TfL where on the insistence of Commissioner Peter Hendy, they have been withdrawn.
How much more bias and incompetence has our trade got to endure from the hands of TfL, before the people who take money from us, who purport to represent our interest, finally start to earn their wages.
We need action...and we need it now
Our orgs must demand the issue of temporary licenses be reinstated.
Don't wait till this puts you out of work
Phone up your respective org/union today and insist on immediate action.
Posted by Editorial at 6:32 PM
Taxi trade overlooked, as Tenison Way Set to be transformed in £4bn roads overhaul: ...by Glen Alutto
Tenison Way, no longer to be a round about.
The IMAX roundabout at Waterloo is to be redeveloped, intending to create a better interchange facility at Waterloo station. The whole reasoning and expense behind the project, is to improved facilities for cyclists.
Boris Johnson, said: “Smarter design of our roads and public spaces, exemplified by our radical plans for Elephant & Castle, will play a key role in ensuring that London remains the best big city to live, work and invest.
“We’ve been hard at work putting the bold and imaginative blueprint of the Road’s Task Force into practice and we’re now seeing the fruits of that labour at key locations across the capital.”
The schemes will be delivered by TfL in partnership with London’s boroughs, developers and businesses.
Councillor Catherine West, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “These schemes, developed in partnership with boroughs, developers, businesses, and Transport for London through the Mayor’s Roads Task Force, should offer real benefits for local communities and road users.
“They will better address the needs of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, and have a positive impact on the quality of life for residents. We look forward to continuing our work with the Mayor’s Roads Task Force to ensure these major projects are a success for Londoners.”
Who and what is this Roads Task Force I hear you say?
As there are 26k of us we must have a strong influence on it surely?
Below is a list of it's members.
Posted by Editorial at 1:03 PM
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
supposed 'improvements' over at Euston Circus
Photos and info from Glen Alutto.
Posted by Editorial at 12:59 PM
Monday, March 03, 2014
Taxi drivers are very polite, some are extremely polite, car and van drivers are courteous. But there is one type of driver who's not courteous at all...the Bus Driver. All of these drivers think they're lord God almighty...
But then we already knew that.
Strange as it may seem, some choose to be ignorent of the truth.
Source: BBC Top Gear, video courtesy of Stormcab.
Posted by Editorial at 8:38 PM
Sunday, March 02, 2014
It has been bought to my attention that there is a massive loop hole in the suburban consultation review (online survey).
Individual drivers or certain groups (serving a particular agenda) are currently able to submit multiple responses, rendering any result flawed.
By not submitting an email address it is possible to submit multiple responses using a false name, which I have done on multiple occasions, leaving a neutral response, remembering to clear cookie data after each attempt. On each occasion I have been sent back a different ID in reference.
Your response ID is ANON-BW95-BCRD-2.
Your response ID is ANON-BW95-BCG9-C.
Your response ID is ANON-BW95-BC9W-V.
Your response ID is ANON-BW95-BC9S-R.
We have had reports that certain groups of drivers have been sitting in cab shelters and cafés with iPads and smart phones, encouraging other drivers to make multiple entries.
This can't be justified under any circumstances.
It has to be one badge, one vote. Responses to a consultation, have to be seen as fair and aboveboard, otherwise any result would be corrupt.
I therefore suggest, all representative trade organisations urgently contact TfL and demand the review response be withdrawn, until the loophole has been rectified.
I have written to my trade representatives and have asked them to submit a complaint to TfL on my behalf and that of our members. I strongly urge every driver to do the same.
In its present form, it is a massive threat to the knowledge of London and the working practices of the licensed taxi driver for both suburban and all London Drivers.
Typical incompetence again, on the part of TfL.
Any published results could legally be challenged in its present form and would be a complete waste of our licence fee budget, which could have been put to better use (new ranks, enforcement etc.).
It's like the Private Hire Licensing Act all over again!
An act that was and still is, brimming full of loop holes.
An act signed off by our main representative groups at that time, who obviously hadn't taken the content of the act too seriously, which since has had dire consequences, devastating the Licensed Taxi industry over the last decade.
QUESTIONS THAT REALLY NEED ANSWERS:
Why have TfL put this consultation on-line?
Why wasn't the consultation response request posted to each licensee?
Why wasn't the consultation about the Cabbies Cabinet put on-line?
Does TfL know the loop hole exists?
We will of course offere TfL the space on this blog to answer the above questions
Posted by Editorial at 3:18 PM
Friday, February 28, 2014
The Ranks and Highways team for the RMT, again wrote to leading members on the GLA and also to certain members of the House of Lords regarding the situation concerning unbooked minicabs and the amount of illegal plying for hire in Central London.
It has been alleged by our team that TfL, the Met/City Police and most local councils have adopted a blind eye attitude to this practise. Victims of robbery, assault and sexual assault are seen as no more than collateral damage, as long as the streets are clear of late night revellers.
Many PH drivers are openly plying for hire outside clubs and bars an even using licensed Taxi ranks, stopping Taxi drivers from plying for hire legally. TfL policy has been completely disregarded with the issueing of satellite office licences which are given out to certain operators like sweets.
In a recent report from the board of TfL, it has been revealed that over 20% of Private Hire operator centres have failed compliance inspections in 2013.
We have in the past been promised help from the GLA, but we can now confirm the Transport committee is to hold a major investigation into the way Taxis and Private Hire are being run by TfL. The RMT have been asked to engage with the transport committee and supply our concerns and suggestions.
This is a major victory for the trade after years of smoke screens and non engagement from our licensing authority. It comes on the back of another breakthrough where Ranks and Highways officers from the RMT have engaged with two agencies regarding illegally plying for hire in Westminster.
Below is the letter sent to the GLA:
Thank you for your offer of help regarding problems currently concerning the London Taxi trade.
Our biggest problem is getting any type of positive response from the Met police and the TfL sponsored Cab Enforcement Unit attached to the Safer Travel Command.
We have complained on numerous occasions to the Commissioner and the Mayor but always get a well scripted answer which offers no new solution. Alas the problems remain. Despite the odd high profile on street operation, there is no follow up and after a day or two the situation reverts back to a free for all.
New York City has an enforcement team of over 350 for a cab fleet of a similar size to London.
London currently has 14 (fourteen) and Boris's announced this as 'We have doubled the size of the cab enforcement team'
True but still hopelessly inadequate to deal with the nightly scourge of sexual predators and illegal plying for hire by Licensed Private hire leaving passengers uninsured.
The Taxi trade would no doubt be happy to fund a larger more effective team. Birmingham has done so and is very successful as their frequent tweets testify.
Much of the problem could be self-financing for local councils and TfL's red rout network, using penalty fines issued to the offending illegally parked vehicles.
2. Rank Space & Disabled Access
We continue to suffer a net loss of rank space forcing cabs to circle when quiet causing pollution, this is especially galling for the cab trade as many late night venues have what we call a Satellite office for Private Hire vehicles which leads inevitably to the cars waiting outside (which is illegal if they are not booked) yet TfL refuse to appoint a rank, often on the grounds of road space, plus they and the relevant parking authority seem happy to turn a blind eye to PH cars parked at the very same location.
Currently Cannon Street station (City of London is the authority) had no taxi rank and is surrounded by bollards so no wheelchair user can either board or alight. There are many other locations (Lewisham and London Bridge stations) where this is an issue.
Just as concerning are that the plans for many of the cross rail stations which do not include provision for a taxi rank, leaving wheelchair users and the less ambulance effectively marooned.
3. Lower emission taxi fleet
There is no cab driver in this city that would not prefer to drive a clean ultra low or zero emissions vehicle.
After all we work in this atmosphere constantly.
The Mayor & TfL has portrayed the cab driver as the villain, yet we are forced to use vehicles that TfL have mandated.
He has introduced a fifteen year age limit as a condition based system, yet the current range of vehicles available to purchase, produces more NO2 & NOx than the previous models. The main beneficiaries of this policy have not been the lungs of Londoners, but companies with directors who sit on the environment committee.
We now have the pronouncement that all new cabs will be zero or of ultra low emissions from 2018.
No published strategy to assist the cab trade into moving over to these vehicles either by a subsidy or a tax break.
No details of development of infrastructure for electric fast charging stations/standings and the models displayed at City Hall were effectively either mock ups or prototypes with scant details on price, range, warranty etc.
TfL has no information about what the future is for today's cabs purchased up to 2018 causing paralysis in the cab trade supply market.
In conclusion you can see there are significant challenges both in terms of public protection, emissions and sustainability that the Mayor and TfL seem to be unwilling to properly address.
If the cab trade is to invest heavily in new technology, it will need some measure of protection and infrastructure provided for it to thrive. The London Taxi is an icon, consistently voted the worlds best and 100% wheelchair accessible.
The Mayor and TfL seem not to value that beyond the odd sound bite or staging meetings with a carefully selected few from the trade.
Our experience is that TfL are secretive, economical with the truth and aggressive as our treatment during the Olympics showed when anti terrorism legislation (yes anti terrorism!) was used to intimidate drivers exercising their legitimate right to protest.
We need a coherent way forward, can you help us?
RMT London Taxi Branch.
Many thanks for your email which has been forwarded to me. Following our recent work on cyclists, buses and pedestrians, the Assembly's Transport Committee will shortly be launching a major investigation into the taxi and private hire trade in London and I would very much encourage you to engage with that review and fed in your concerns and suggestions.
Darren Johnson AM
Green Party Member
Posted by Editorial at 12:38 PM