Friday, September 25, 2015

Never Was So Much Semtex.

An aspirational and famous speech by Churchill, and perhaps, a little dramatic for this piece. But actually, maybe it's perfectly fitting!

Standing under the UCG's "Totally Failing London" banner at the bank yesterday, shoulder to shoulder with colleagues who really care, left me in a unfamiliar state of mind.
The same old faces, the same concerns, the same commitment...........................but all getting older !

I have been on most of our trade demos, way back since before the Victoria Coach Station one, so many years ago. And even then, it was the same old colleagues, fighting and taking their stance in hope of a better, stronger trade.

To a large extent, we achieved much. The Killer On The Knowledge success, being one that springs to mind. The thing is though, and what makes me really sad is, we could have achieved so so much more.

Since I have been a trade scribe now, which covers a fair few years, I have never commented, denounced, criticised or bad mouthed any of our trade organisations, as I was convinced that they were all trying to win a better working environment for us, albeit with varying ideas. Nothing wrong with that of course. But yesterday, and for the first time ever, I got the mephitic feeling, that maybe there were some strange vibes from within our own ranks, and after sleeping on it, have awoken this morning convinced that there are indeed ! 

For the first time ever, I publicly say that in my opinion, as a working London Taxi Driver and member of all of the organisations in my time..........................I think they have a lot to answer for.

Not just that either. I have always accused TFL and City Hall of dubious and murky goings on within their fabric, but yesterday I came away from the Bank thinking that the very same thing is happening within our own structure too. And that shouldn't be the case......should it ? If there is any truth in that, then it would explain how a group of 25000 professionals, can be in such a weak and professionally perrilous corner !

Not one official backing from any of the "others" was given to the UCG at the Bank. AND  YET, colleagues from all sides turned out in their thousands from every single one of the clubs, organisations, unions, associations and groups ! I don't understand that ! If a driver was happy with their chosen representing trade organisation, then surely he or she would be obliged and indeed, willing to take the stance of the organisation's views on the demo ?  Right ? Well, actually.........No ! They didn't ! 

From where I stood on the front line, I don't think it was just a case of supporting the UCG, but a case of supporting somebody, someone, some thing or some group, who were actually trying to DO SOMETHING to protect their livelihoods !

The banter from our colleagues was one of obvious disenchantment too. I can perfectly understand that. Why are we in this position? I am quite an anorak when it comes to studying various strategies in any form of battle or campaign, and I can confidently tell you, that any progress that our trade has made to either hold on to, or better our lot.......HAS BEEN MADE BY THE FEW!

It is a worrying but accurate fact that colleagues such as the TAG Hit Squads, the Mayfair Mob, The Club Hit Squads and other splinter groups among us, have made more progress and achieved more success than any of our trade representation, some of who hold millions of "fighting fund ?" money !  How on earth can that possibly be ?
I tell you what my opinion is shall I ? 
I think "The Few" succeed because they are resolute and genuine.

I think they succeed because they honestly don't concern themselves with playing at being politician wannabees, they ain't concerned with making enough money from membership subscriptions to prevent them from mushing a cab, and they ain't concerned with carving out an alternate cushy position in "the office" whilst masquerading as a caring colleague. They are out there to do a job...........and they do it incredibly well !

In future, before I go spouting off about Boris, Daniels, Hendy, Emmerson and the rest of that rabble, it wouldn't do us any harm to study some of our own high ranking management first ! I believe there is collusion and betrayal at the very top of our trade, just like at TFL,  that has absolutely no appetite for a safer and more secure playing field for London Taxi Drivers, rather than the longevity and comfort of the obvious gravy train that purports to represent London Taxi Driver members.

Naturally, I wouldn't want my opinion to whitewash the genuine hard working trade reps and club officials who work ridiculous long hours in a GENUINE AND HONEST effort to make progress. But don't let us kid ourselves, they're are some wrong un's flourishing from within our ranks, who have had an astonishing comfortable free ride from our trade, as it sinks slowly but surely into the Suwannee ! 

And I think it is these traitors who are deliberately leading our great London Taxi Trade along a path that will eventually replicate Operation Market Garden!

What was NOT to support yesterday's demo ?  What did the trade org's gain from a demo mutiny ? Of course, I respect the colleagues among us who disagree with the demonstration action, but what alternate assistance do they offer ? Judicial Reviews ? Court Action?  Meetings? Courts? Litigation?  Ministers support ? Yeah yeah, course we will ! Blah blah, bloody blah ! They didn't say what century ! That's the problem isn't it ?

Do you realise how much these specialist litigation briefs charge for all of this representation by the hour ? Who's gonna pay for it ? Ghostbusters? Absolute pie in the sky folks ! It ain't gonna happen that way, and if I'm alive to see TFL and City Hall in court, then lets hope we can re-create the Great Train Robbery with 6 extra coaches to pay for it ! That's all I can say !

Meanwhile, we slip very slowly into extinction. Our once great trade, which has served London, Londoners and the World's travelling public in platinum professionalism and service, reduced to a pile of rubble and merely awaiting our stall in the London Transport Museum !

May I say, that it was an incredible proud part of my life to have fought and stood in hope and staunch resistance in my time on the London Taxi front lines. The calibre of men (and women) who I have met along the way have been an inspiration to me and I am honoured to have them as friends. 

Standing at the Bank Junction yesterday may just have been another battle honour, but as I walked back to my taxi, it dawned on me that not only will we never have complete trade unity, but perhaps it was never there in the first place. My rose coloured glasses have at last lost their lenses !

To my mind and for reasons mentioned above, I can only see the UCG as becoming a stronger and even more respected force out there as time goes on, as our downtrodden colleagues view their alternatives. Len Martin is a good man, and holds the reins in confidence and skill. Perhaps all is not lost, but time is ticking by.

I must say, that the Gold Control Commander and his team from the City Of London Police, were not only incredibly fair up at the Bank yesterday, but professional and refreshingly approachable too. When we can work in democratic and compliant cohesion as we did yesterday, the whole demo has a sharper and better looking edge.

Just before I left my colleagues at the UCG and friends that I have met along my time as a proud one of "The Few", I got genuinely choked up as a roar went up for a lone Knowledge Boy, beeping the horn on his moped as he weaved among the motionless taxis at the Bank.

I know only too well the pride he was feeling. His "today's runs" were pinned to his knowledge board as he waved at the crowds of his future mates standing under the banner.
What is HIS future ? I asked myself. Will he eventually make it ? Will he be one day standing here with us as we still fight on ? Will he have a secure and respected future as a result of the trade representation who "look after" us ? Or will he be doing it all for nothing?

Either way, in mutual respect, I stood my brolly up against the wall by the tube entrance, and joined in the crowd to give our future colleague a standing ovation ! 
He didn't have to be there. He didn't have to care. He didn't even know if he would make the grade eventually. But he came ! He drove to the Bank, he cared and supported the men and women who one day God willing, will be his colleagues in trade.

What more could you ask ? Whoever you were my friend, total respect to you, well done and let's hope we can keep something for you to join us in.

And to the "Few" who know who they are, stand proud my friends, for it is only you who have managed to hold us together thus far!

London Taxi Trade Representation ?  Some of our lot couldn't spell Representation, let alone carry it out !

Never Was So Much Owed...............................

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock, Tick........................

8829 Semtex.


Anonymous said...

Huge lump in my throat reading that. Fantastic article Semtex.

Anonymous said...

100% right Semtex.
The LTDA have taken £150k a months from taxi drivers for years and years.
There is no clear statement from there as to where those funds go.
They own millions of pounds worth of property and the structure of the LTDA is dubious to say the least; a web of companies in different names etc
The voting system that they have to elect the same members year after year regardless of performance is not a proper process.
There should be a police investigation ; if they have nothing to hide then Im sure they wont mind.
Oddy is paid £30k a year by TFL who he is supposed to challenge on his members behalf.

McNamara said live on LBC last year that Boris had not acted in bad faith against taxi drivers and that needlessly scrapping taxis had not impacted drivers financially.

It was great that there was good support for yesterdays demo.
My frustration was that there was no Press Conference and no clear message to the media about the root cause of taxi trade problems which is corruption and as a result the little coverage that was reported that it was an Uber protest.
Maybe proper management of the media will happen before the next demo?

Anonymous said...

Most of us would like to believe that all our trade orgs & unions have the best interest of the trade in mind.
It has never been easy to sit a group of cab drivers down, and have all agree on anything.
Everyone has a different opinion on how things should be done. That is why most of us are in this job, we
are all individuals not wanting others telling us what to do.
Unfortunately in this case individuality is a weakness not a strength, numbers make the difference.

When the PCO closed none of us took much notice, and thought the new licensing authority TFL must know what they are doing.
Well we were obviously wrong about that because with everything that has happened since their arrival one can only deduce that they
are either a totally incompetent group of people or totally corrupt to have allowed things to have gone this far.
Can anyone imagine demos like these under the control of the PCO, NO !! because with their firm fair attitude we all knew where we stood. Under the PCO our trade was protected, under TFL we have been sold down the river and hung out to dry !!

Anonymous said...

Great read and so true. I'm a dissolutioned LTDA member. It seems that they don't want to be seen as boat rockers. I've been a member for thirty years plus and for the first time I'm thinking of leaving and joining another union. I remember and attended the Victoria coach station demos and others since but this is the biggest challenge the cab trade has ever faced. If we don't put up and fight these clowns who govern us we WILL be wiped out.
I'm coming to the end of my cab driving career and I so want to leave a job for life trade for future generations. Every cab driver should put into the fighting fund to save the finest cab service in the world. If we all pull together we will win so come on lads badger your mates who are sitting on the fence and expecting others to do it for them and make them donate. We're all in it together

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:02pm
During your 30 years plus the LTDA has taken in £50+ million in driver subscriptions. Most cab drivers have been a member of the LTDA at one time or another and contributed to that mountain of money! The LTDA proclaim to have set aside £1 million to fight TfL. It's all smoke and mirrors, they have no intention of parting with a single penny. I suggest you read Semtex's article again and look at recently published articles on Taxi Leaks by Dave Davis who explains why throwing money at lawyers and court cases will not achieve a thing !

Anonymous said...

Look back on the posts 5 years ago on this site we could of sorted this ages ago bot no why ...?? Men are coming to kill us yet grant give us ids and every body was saying yep my earning will be up five grand now borris was pestered by Davis to push it through but we took our eye of the ball and was lead down the garden path like fools So here we are now all the trade orgs and slagging each other of even with bob on the board we have gained sod all why did we not fight back then ???? Even with the demos it will not change what the conservative have in store for us where is the law commission

Anonymous said...

You'll have trouble looking back on this site 5 years
It didn't start til Jan 2011

Anonymous said...

Anderson shelter need I say more

Patrick McGuinness said...

I was that Knowledge student weaving my way through the ranks of stationary cabs. I got to the Bank around 4.30.

As a member of the UCG, I try to attend all the meetings they hold and I also try rallying the other knowledge bods when we have Demo's.

To be honest I dont know what the future holds, but then again I dont know what it was like 'back in the day' when this job was at its peek an a 'good earner' was to be had with ease, relatively speaking.

However, and this is the key for me, I have set myself the goal to become part of 'London's finest'. I stood as proud as the other drivers at the Bank an Trafalgar Square and I will be there for ALl of the future demo's which have been called. The reason for this is that I still believe in this great trade and I still believe it has a future in this city.

We are experiencing an incredibly difficult and scary period at present and to see the volume of cabs that turned up at Bank was amazing for me. I felt proud to be there.

I left that scene with the image of the different colours of the lanyards around people's necks and it saddened me that the other orgs did not back this action, called by the UCG. But, I now feel the members who are part of those orgs are starting to see the light ahead and I believe, regardless of what they say, more an more drivers are starting to stand shoulder to shoulder with their colleagues and are attending these demo's, to show that slowly but surely, we are coming together at last, to stand united in this brutal fight with the fcukwhits at the helm!!......

Pmcarpediem on Twitter.

L.T said...

Unite or die that's what you need to get across to the money grabbing
Cab drivers out there backhand Boris and the rest of them at tfl need to be
Brought to book for what there doing to this city