Tuesday, December 09, 2014

THE STATE OF THE TRADE....by Jim Thomas.

I sat in the Kings Cross Taxi Centre last night chatting to my normal crowd. Most in their mid 60's to early 70s. Drivers I've respected and looked up to throughout my 41 years service in this trade.

Drivers who willingly fought tooth and nail, with no questions asked, to kept this trade going strong for many years. I'm proud to call these drivers my friends.

I remember standing shoulder to shoulder with them when we
  • Banged up the car park at the GLC City hall (an operation the military would have been proud of)
  • Converged on Marylebone Council House to protest against Westminster Council's proposed licensing of minicab offices in the West End (a protest boycotted by the LTDA)
  • Stood firm outside Stringfellows and the Hippodrome when they installed the first minicab booking desks
  • Blocked in Mr Ali's touts at Cranbourne Street
  • Stood together against the touts outside the Sports Cafe
  • Formed the first ever impromptu flashmob at Hanover Square
  • And protested many times at Nobu, Tiger Tiger, Abacus, On Anon plus much, much more.
We stuck together, had respect for each other and were part of the reason this trade was recognised everywhere as the premier taxi service, the iconic jewel in the crown, voted world's best Taxi service six years running.

But as they say, time waits for no man or indeed this veteran band of brothers who have become a dying breed. Many already gone, their true grit and courage lost to the trade for good. Sad thing is, there's no new blood, no young, strong, capable leaders stepping up to replace the old brigade.

As our leading characters disappear at a rate of knots, look what's happened to our trade, our radio circuits, our ranks, our livelihood?

Who's gonna take their place.

The driver who nips passed you on the inside and nicks a job ?
The driver who takes a job beside you, as you sit patiently queuing on a rank ?
The driver who's only worry is about his/her next pound note ?
The apathetic drivers who don't want to talk about the mess we're in ?

What's left today, is a trade that has the appearance of a having no heart, no appetite to fight back, no time to demonstrate, no etiquette towards their fellow drivers. 
Plus, half the trade, are quite happy to follow Orgs that have a distinct conflicts of interest, who indulge in excluding the more militant groups and members, but worst of all, have no idea how to fix the situation we find ourself in.

Definitely not the trade it once was, now broken and demoralised. 

In a recent interview on London Taxi Radio, John Mason admitted he put together the engagement policy, because it was his job to get the Mayor's clean air strategy past. An agenda which included the Taxi age limit. His policy split the trade and has enabled TfL to walk all over us.

After Mason outlived his usefulness, TfL made it clear he would be sidestepped, which left him no option other than resigning. The engagement policy is now dead in the water, but in its wake, has left the UTG locked in a power struggle and constanly at each other's throats. 

Exclusion is still the order of the day with the United Trade Group. Seriously, what benefits can possibly be achieved by keeping the trade divided. 
Only Oddy, McNamara, Kelly, Davis and Cox know the answer. 

With a truly united trade, we could of had TfL quaking in their boots. 
Instead, we got them pissing their pants laughing at us. 

Our friend Semtex said, when the final battle comes, there will be no one left to lead.

Best Taxi Service In The World ? ... Not Any More.


Anonymous said...

We'll said Jim.

A truely rousing speech that will make us all look very closely at ourselves and the way we are behaving!!

Now, is it possible for you to make this available in 8 different languages and Braille for our newer colleagues who have yet to master English and fail to see every other cab on the road!!


Real world said...

I hear no pay rise for TFL next year they are gutted. Still at least in Palestra the partnerships still enjoy free tea coffee and of course their cornflake milk
What other job do you get that allows you to have breakfast free, and during your working hours.. and it is rumoured the Palestra TFL police get paid London weighting

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have put it better Jim. Unless new young blood takes up the mantle, trades gonna go the way of the dockers and printers in fleet St

london_boy said...

Jim well said the sad thing is as a yellow badge holder and proud of it ,At the suburban review yesterday unite the union was there WHY RMT and BOB ODDY (he never said a word honest ) Yet he takes yellow badge's money .so after 2 and a half years we are no further forward for answers as to why they flooded the burbs with badges we have to wait till after the election next year OH and then the law review .
Funny old thing the UTG they had a private meeting today to swap Christmas present or Brown envelopes
BUT we wernt invited .

Gerald said...

Jimmy, I know how much you love the trade and how much you always try to defend the actions of some who may have step out of line. It must have been painful for you to put these thoughts into words and then publish.

Jimmy, you are a good man and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you anytime.

Anonymous said...

Well said mason mugged off grant davis like a gooden and used him to spilt the trade.a few men killing 400 years of history.