The ITA, Marching in to save the day after the main representative orgs failed miserably to mobilise their membership.
What a couple of weeks that was!!
The European Court decided Uber IS a transport company.
McNamara turns up to the Derry Street demo with a couple of mates instead of the huge backing from his members he was hoping for,
but the ITA saved the day AGAIN!
Liverpool Taxi Alliance serve notice on TFL warning that if any Uber car licensed by them should venture into Liverpool at the weekend, it would not be returning to London.
None were seen!!
That's how you treat piss takers.
That's how you defend your livelihood and that's how you retain pride and self respect.
Down south however, it's a different story.
One of our drivers was cruelly smashed over the back of the head with an iron bar for trying to defend South Ken cab rank, thankfully he's ok but no thanks to the cab drivers who apparently drove past, well done chaps!
Can we start helping each other now please?
The Old Axe pub on Hackney road has become a focal point for all sorts of rats lately who constantly swarm all over the 4 cab rank outside. It's active from 7pm-7am and the owners have asked for us to serve this rank specifically because they want us, some good work comes out of it so if you're passing please spend 20 mins on there if only to piss the rats off.
But be warned, one or two aren't that tame so be wise.
Now to the good news.
Last week the GMB served a 22 page Mandamus Injunction on TFL. Mandamus means "We command" which is an order from a superior court to do some specific act which that body is obliged under law to do. If this order is not complied with it automatically becomes a judicial revue on oath.
This action was taken to find out who in TFL gave the order to license Uber, whether coerced or under duress from Downing Street, who signed it and who's responsible for guiding Uber around the requirements laid out in their own rules and regulations for an operators license.
They're also challenging Uber's re-license due on 31st May.
This action is being spearheaded by Maria Ludkin, GMB's legal director who is at the top of her field.
This will open up that can of worms we all know exists but, as yet, been unable to open ourselves.
We're finally beginning to get somewhere, pressure from the Daily Mail stories is mounting slowly and this brilliant action from the GMB can only help brighten that flickering light at the end of that very long tunnel.
Since the news broke however, the detractors and naysayers have gone into overdrive with shouts of the usual "It's a PH Union", "I won't side with PH".
Let's put things into perspective.
The General, Municipal and Boilermakers Union is made up of over 640k members from all walks of life and various industries including private hire drivers.
GMB Pro Drivers includes coach drivers, lorry drivers, ambulance drivers, dust lorry drivers aside from private hire drivers, it's a professional driver section of a nationwide union protecting hundreds of trades and individuals. It mustn't be confused with unions and associations specific to private hire like the National Private Hire Association which some of us have tenuous links to, yet choose to forget.
The fact remains, whether we like it or not, the GMB have succeeded where our orgs have failed and we have to accept it. They've achieved more in 7/8 weeks than the orgs have in the 5 years this Uber cancer has been devastating our lives.
It's not ideal I know, but I'll cling to any lifeboat available for the sake of my family and I really couldn't care less how I'm thought of for it.
Along with a growing number of cab drivers I've realised the only possible chance of any future for our trade is, ironically enough in the hands of a trade union non-specific to the black cab trade. That's not my fault or the fault of any cab driver that joins the GMB, that's the fault and shame of all the trade orgs for not acknowledging the dangers when pointed out to them, not listening and not acting in the way they should have, when they should have.
The LCDC have recently taken the spotlight for the brilliant stories in the Daily Mail and so they should.
Dave Davis has also revealed he's involvement in exposing various scandals surrounding TFL and Government but unless we as a trade do something with these developments they're forgotten about.
Time and time again opportunities were missed, an aggressive stance wasn't taken properly and in some quarters idleness took center stage. The end result has been 5 years of abject misery with no end in sight and extinction seemed imminent, until now.
All these drivers who spurn GMB's involvement need to get a reality check. How many spend demo days on the golf course or go fishing?
How many work during demos?
How many socialise with PH drivers?
How many use the local minicab office themselves?
How many belong to an org at all?
How many rank up all over the place (where ranks are not there) outside theatres and restaurants not giving the floating cab a chance of getting a job?
Even though this behavior is wrong it's also testament to the sheer desperation felt by us all and failures of all the orgs collectively.
Nevertheless, don't throw stones in glass houses.
If you haven't taken part in any part of this fight you have no right to an opinion on any drivers choice of representation.
Nobody's saying turn your back on the orgs, but you can turn your back on failure which has been a constant in the past and a guarantee for the future.
The GMB are going for the angle of regulation.
Force in regulation with as much of a return to the two tier system we had before and life begins again. Uber can't function with regulation, that's the whole story of there success.
Uber have paid the authorities to put laws into place to thwart any attempt to challenge them giving them carte blanche to circumvent any law that inhibits their business through careful and skillfully placed loopholes secretly ratified by government behind closed doors.
Even ironclad statements from TFL's Luke Howard seem to be ignored-
"ILEGALLY PLYING FOR HIRE TAKES PLACE IF A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER ENTERS INTO OR CONCLUDES NEGOTIATIONS FOR THE HIRE OF THE VEHICLE OR WHERE A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER WAITS IN OR PATROLS AN AREA IN A WAY WHICH IS LIKELY TO ATTRACT CUSTOM".
TFL have recently refused to grant a FOI request to a driver for copies of 557 emails to and from TFL and Uber because, in a nutshell,
"it would take to long".
It seems nothing can penetrate TFL's defenses, until now.
Good luck with that if the GMB ask!
TFL have sat pretty for years safe in the knowledge they were protected by Whitehall and untouchable. They knew the orgs weren't equipped with the wherewithal to even scratch the surface of the disgusting culture cultivated specifically to destroy our trade and that of the PH trade up and down the country. And that's what the GMB recognised and with their huge resources we can all now start thinking about the future.
The fight isn't over by any means but the papers served on TFL last week is a huge leap forward for us all, PH drivers included. They've also entered the fight for Sean Stockings, writing to TFL on his behalf even though he's not a member and asked for details in relation to any risk assessments carried out over the credit card machines in the back of the cab, and that's for all of us.
Bank Junction closes tomorrow from 7am-7pm with access only for buses and cyclists during those times. The orgs are carrying out pollution studies to run alongside COL but it's been revealed that COL have not only placed monitoring equipment in the wrong places (knowingly) but they're also insufficient in number. Therefore any and all figures gathered will not only be obtained by deception but clearly fraudulent, let see what the orgs do about it because there will only be one set of figures acted upon and it won't be there's.
The traffic carnage that's about to fall on the City will be unbearable all for the sake of "safety".
Yet according to the College of Paramedics, pandering to the wants of cycling lobbyists is causing major problems with response times. When ambulances are trying to blue light through traffic their's just nowhere for the traffic to go in order to get out of the way, largely due to cycle lanes and the huge backlog they cause. Bank Junction and that whole area will be gridlock and no doubt because of that, lives will be put in perilous danger all because of ignorance, selfishness and a refusal listen to common sense.
Then there's the cries from cab drivers who can't work because of it. Where were they when the ITA held a week long demo trying to stop it happening?
Where were the orgs?
Where will they be next week and the weeks following?
Will they be waiting for the ITA?
They can wait.
What's happening next week along with the so called soul selling defection to the GMB is the result of years of failure by a trade that should have stood up like men and fought for the right to a livelihood we all earned. Any driver in this trade who doesn't believe in fighting or demonstrating for the right to earn a living is to blame for the state it's in. Only a strong, solid demonstration is a successful one but we've never achieved it. No man should stand by and allow this sort of persecution by anyone, even government. I'd go so far as to say it's a man's duty to fight for his living regardless of the odds but I imagine some people will disagree.
Whether that's the case or not, I once posed the question-
Can you see yourself paying for your daughters wedding in five years time?
At the time it was a resounding NO!
Now however, I'm starting to think it may be possible after all.
The tide may have begun to turn in the cab trade's favour at last and the fact the GMB is steering the ship sits quite well for me as I'm confident in their ability unlike our orgs. There will come a time when we're at odds with each other but for now the plain fact is they're doing what we've been praying for since 2012. When this investigation or inquiry ends with a victory for us and PH, I hope it sets a precedent to any and all other vultures out there who wish to try their luck in the future.
Just think, if we'd have thrown rickshaws in the Thames when they first appeared on Albert Embankment would Uber be here today?
Or would a warning have gone out and a precedent set then?
We have ourselves to blame for Uber's onslaught, instead of fighting like men we bent over with our strides down.
That's how it would've stayed, that was our future until last week. Swallow your pride and encourage GMB to save your jobs, the orgs have had years to do it and failed.
I emailed McNamara last week asking for rank patrols to safeguard them from criminal Uber drivers armed with iron bars but as yet, no answer.
They should have been in place ages ago. The GMB has written to TFL and the Met regarding Cab ranks on our behalf, specifically the Cafe Royal Hotel.
Failure is no longer a guarantee but victory has just become a distinct possibility and it's growing all the time.
With this in mind I'm once again optimistic and it feels good.
Interesting days are ahead and I hope my optimism proves valid for all ors sakes. If and when that day comes, I hope all those naysayers have the good grace to admit and accept they were wrong and apologise to those they slated.
We shall see.