Friday, May 10, 2013

OUR RANKS, NOT FOR SALE...Another Administrational Cock Up From the Directorate of Jim Thomas

Early yesterday evening it became evident that something was not Kosher on the Hilton Park Lane Taxi rank.

Drivers, expelled from one of the busiest working Taxi ranks in Central London, watched in disbelief as a plinth was erected on the point of our rank to display the prise of a commercial RAFFLE.

A notice of suspension was attached to the Taxi post and the whole of rank 4762 was coned off.

In the same disgraceful spirit of the Olympic, where we saw Taxi ranks moved away from venues at the bequest of commercial sponsors, we were informed we would have to use the rank in Hamilton Place.

In the past months we have seen (with the full blessing of LTPH) "Free Private Hire Taxi ranks" operated in Central London by commercial companies plus main Taxi rank suspensions at places like the Dorchester, Grosvenor House and the Victoria and Albert museum, in order to facilitate certain private hire companies use of our ranks.

We even saw LTPH suspend the rank at the Roof Garden restaurant for a private party where later in the evening the doorman was arrested by Cab enforcement, as a private hire company used the rank in order for their vehicles to tout business.

This practise must be stamped out, before it becomes the norm.

A group of concerned RMT drivers complained to their trade representative (who was on the scene in minutes) and a call was made to the new temporary General Manager of LTPH to ascertain exactly what was going on. 

Helen Chapman stated that LTPH had been approached by a commercial company to suspend the main rank outside the Hilton in order for a raffle prise to be displayed. She said she felt obliged to accommodate the request, otherwise the company might be unhappy in choosing the Hilton on subsequent occasions. 

The RMT rep pointed out, it is not the place of LTPH to accommodate private commercial enterprise and her first responsibility should be towards the the trade that her department license. It is the license fees of hard working Taxi drivers who pay for the administration of this rank and not a commercial company. 

She was then asked if LTPH had received any remuneration for this suspension, to which she replied LTPH seek no financial gain from rank suspensions. Not quite the answer to the question asked!

So we ask again:
There must be a cost involved, so who picks up the tab...does that come out of our license fees too. 

Incensed drivers then took direct action against the rank revocation and the cones were removed accessing just two of the normal four spaces, but at least a presence would be available to guests attending the evenings functions at the hotel, surely guests leaving the hotel have a right to expect Taxis to be found outside, not a raffle prise.

By now members of the United Cabbies Group were on site and a mass demonstration was quickly arranged for midnight. Drivers felt strongly that their working rights were being abused by LTPH, who had bent over backwards to accommodate the Raffle company . 

On the stroke of midnight the Hotel was embargoed and the whole area was blocked by protesting Taxis. 

A hurried meeting was soon arranged by the hotel management who were very apologetic and surprised as no previous objection had been formally offered by the trade. They ordered the raffle company to immediately remove the car and dismantle the plinth. This was then carried out ahead of schedule and the rank returned to normal working, hours before the planned 2am finish of the main function.

It also emerged on Twitter that the United Trade Group (LTDA, LCDC and Unite) had been informed about the intended revocation and by their action of not objecting, sanctioned the ranks suspension. Also we found out, the suspension was apparently advertised, not in the main stream Taxi media, not by TfL notice or even on their @TfLTPH twitter account, but on Unite's CTN blog. 


What next?
Will we see ranks sold off at other hotels and main line stations?....Will we see more complementary   private hire Taxi services?

Unity is strength. 
Well done to those who turned up to protest. Sometimes you have to stand back and look at the bigger picture. Although some drivers were annoyed that their night was interrupted  for an hour, the hotel will in future, think twice about suspending this busy rank for something as petty as a raffle prise.

 We have shown that we will not sit back or roll over, as our ranks are sold off to the highest bidder by LTPH. Not a great start for the new General Manager of Taxis and Private Hire. 


Anonymous said...

Are Helen Chapman's comments for real? She has truly lost the plot - the trade is not safe in her hands.

Fulham Denny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fulham Denny said...

Fulham Denny said...
As a regular user of this rank i was somewhat annoyed at not being able to work it, so i joined in this protest instead and it was good to see many other drivers there too. Most of whom i never see working this rank. Its good to know there are some in this trade who do care. Well done to the RMT and UCG. We cannot allow TfL to deprive us of our living without a fight.

On a sadder note i was upset by the negative comments posted on twitter by certain individuals who had no intention of doing anything for the trade. xxx names removed by editor xxxxx and the others in their gang should all hang their heads in shame. They certainly showed everyone on twitter what they are all about.

Anonymous said...

Great to see drivers taking action again instead of bowing down, bending over and being shafted,

I saw their comments on twitter and it made me all the more willing t join in the protest. What you have to realise is these drivers , who shout now can only see as far as the next job. They don't see what may come of this.

They will be the first to demand action if this escalates
They should hang their heads in shame. We saw just what they're up to with their own little venture and bent as a nine bob note that was.

You should have left their names on mate, and let them take the shame

Salvatore m said...

It may not stop this shameful prostitution of our rank spaces, but be sure TfL if you 'try it on ' we are ready to act quickly.

Just do the decent thing and don't allow it, it causes all sorts of issues and frustration.

Anonymous said...

This type of disgraceful behaviour by LTPH would NOT have been tolerated pre TfL
This is yet another incident which shows the none effectiveness of The Ranks Committee - who appear to represent no one, except themselves.
Time for changes all round

Anonymous said...

The behaviour of certain members of the failed twitter group TLC was unforgivable
This group could organise a pissup in a brewery yet are green with envy over the success of any other group.

Long live the UCG, RMT, UCGup and Tag hit squad

Anonymous said...

I call these tainted TLC members the bitches of eastwick.

They think they are something special but they are just a bunch of losers

Anonymous said...

Why do some people criticise others for trying, it seems to be a cab trade disease. If people try and fail they should hold their head high for trying, the yanks applaud people who try and fail, we sneer. Last night the UCG and RMT cried foul. Enough troops were rallied to get the range rover moved. It worked. But what if it had been left there until 4pm today as was the plan? How some would have sneered eh? But we tried. And that's all we in the UCG and RMT ask... That we try and in trying we don't face sneers, jeers and criticism. It's shameful when people criticise those who try.

Let's hope those who sneered at last nights action don't repeat this next time we have to act. It's low, low attacking those who try for all of us. Do nothing and sneer? Poor show.

Boris the buffoon said...

Why on Unites blog and not the usual methods, anyone would think that TfL wanted to not let anyone object.

We had it before at the Grosvenor House and mat. I story Museum, ll apparently 'exceptional one off's' according to Tfl.

Another lot of porkies!