Friday, July 03, 2015

The Great Taxi Strike Of 1913 : Plus Pictures From This Week On Social Media.

1913: Taxi drivers from the TGWU (Unite) went on strike.

One of the major actions by cab drivers was the ‘Great Cab Strike of 1913′. The strike started on January 1st when the proprietors increased their petrol charges to the driver from 8d to 1s Id, an increase of 5d per gallon. 11,000 London cab drivers went on strike led by their union the London Cab Drivers Union. The Union had national membership and organised a complete stoppage in support by cab drivers in Liverpool, Bradford and Leeds. Other unions supported the cab drivers and Paris cab drivers held collections.

Despite great hardship of the drivers and their families the strike ended in victory in mid-March. On March 21st the proprietors withdrew their 5d increase and the drivers returned to work.

At the end of the 1913 strike many drivers were arguing that the proprietors should not be charging drivers for petrol at all. This was the successful aim of the ‘1917 London Cab Drivers Strike’. After a six week withdrawal of labour the proprietors ended all charges to the drivers for petrol.

The T&GW Union also organised the boycott in 1907 of London railway stations that successfully removed the ID toll on taxis at these stations.

A New Dawn 

There has been a new dawn in the Taxi trade. We have recently seen all orgs pulling together and singing from the same hymn sheet. 

The tide has turned and although it's early days, remember the old battle cry from the picket lines....

"The workers united, will never be defeated".

Photos of the week.

From Jeremy Booker Twitter:

Uber arrives to pick up Boris

From Sean Paul Day (Twitter):

Computer generated graphic of new Nine Elms Project

The True Reality!

Star picture of the week : Sister are doing it for themselves.

Proving that two are better than Nun.

Two injured after minicab crashes into cement-mixer truck outside Robbie Williams's £17m mansion

Two people were injured after a minicab crashed into a cement-mixer lorry outside Robbie Williams's house in the early hours this morning.

The male driver of the Minicab Prius and female passenger were taken to hospital after the collision near the singer Robbie Williams £17.5million property in Holland Park, west London.

According to a witness, the cement truck was trying to park when it was struck by the minicab at 2.50pm.    

The London Fire Brigade was called to the scene, where firefighters had to cut off the top of the vehicle to free those inside.

Neither of the occupants' injuries are serious, according to a Metropolitan Police spokesman, who added that so far no arrest had been made.

Thursday, July 02, 2015


Statement from Chairman, Len Martin.

Also included is Tom Watson's letter to The Mayor, which was sent last night.

Dear members,

I'm writing to you in advance of developments which will shortly be released to the media. But first let me say that you, the drivers, have been at the forefront of the campaign to bring TfL and Uber to book. Your commitment to saving our 350 year old trade is second to none. With great pride we are recognised as the 'gold standard' for taxi drivers worldwide. You are living proof of that.

But our livelihoods have been at threat from unfair and unregulated competition for too long; and by a "woefully inadequate" regulator, which refuses to take our concerns on board. We pride ourselves on keeping London moving. The fact that we have been forced to take industrial action over these recent months is a mark of just how bad things have got.

And we are winning the fight. After the first two demos, we saw a parliamentary intervention and met with MP Tom Watson to express our concerns. We handed over thousands of complaints against Uber. Days later Sir Peter Hendy resigned from TfL. This was no coincidence.

On the 30th of June we took to the streets again.  With regret, we gridlocked central London. Not a single arrest was made. Two further industrial actions were planned. 

At this point the UCG phones started ringing off the hooks.

Yesterday, Tom Watson MP, concerned both by the disruption to London's workers and by the plight of our members, requested a meeting with the UCG at Westminster. 

After hearing what Mr Watson had to say, we decided to suspend all pending industrial action, in order to allow parliamentary process the chance of moving the fight forward. Of course, if this comes to nothing we will take to the streets again, gridlock the city, escalate our campaign and potentially take it to the airports. We will also consider a legal action. No stone will be left unturned.

Last night, Mr Watson wrote forcefully to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, requesting that he enter into negotiations with us and that he address the appalling failures of TfL. A copy of this letter is included below. 

Questions will also be asked of ministers in parliament and Mr Watson has committed himself to doing all he can to find a resolution to our legitimate concerns.

People said it couldn't be done, but you are winning the fight to save the trade. 

We will keep you abreast of all developments as they unfold.

Yours sincerely,

Len Martin.


United Cabbies Group.

Letter to Boris Johnson From Tom Watson MP


Mayor of London -


I have today met with Trevor Merralls (Campaigns Manager), Angela Clarkson (Secretary) and Len Martin (chairman) of the United Cabbie Group. 

As I’m sure you know, UCG is the fastest-growing trade organisation for black cabs in London. 

They told me of their increasing frustration at the failure of Transport for London (TfL) to deal with their legitimate concerns about Uber and TfL’s role as a regulator of taxi and private hire services. 

I cannot be the only worker in London who is concerned about the increasing disruption to London's transport network by taxi drivers who feel they have no choice but to demonstrate because their concerns are not being taken seriously by TfL. 

I'm sure it will not have escaped your notice that two Uber executives in Paris were this week indicted on charges that range from running illegal taxi services to illicit storage of personal data. 

And you will also have read reports from America that suggest a senior executive at Uber said that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticised the company.

You are a busy man but you are the person in charge of London. I'm sure with a bit of wisdom applied to this problem, a way forward can be found. 

I have asked United Cabbies Group to postpone their planned future actions. 

They have considered my proposal that they do so, in return for helping them get their legitimate concerns heard by a senior politician. 

Looking at this from all sides, that senior politician is you. 

Please take personal charge of this issue and deal with it. If you would like me to broker talks, I'll do whatever I can to help. 

Best wishes,


Tom Watson 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Southend here we come it's going to be a hot one.... By Chris the Cabby

The long awaited day has arrived. Wednesday, 1st July, over 100 Taxi drivers will be giving up their days work, to take these kids on a trip to the seaside.

In a convoy of over 100 balloon decorated taxis, 300 deserving children, some of whom have never actually seen the sea before (most of whom have never been in a taxi), will be taken on the annual legendary outing to Southend on Sea. 

The trip organised by volunteers for the London Taxi Drivers Fund for Underprivileged Children.

A big thank you to all the wonderful drivers for giving up a days work to make this outing happen and also thanks to the many helpers, face painters, balloonists, clowns and characters.

Grateful thanks must go to Sainsbury's (Low Hall) Chingford for making the LTFUC their charity of the year and for all the help and support they have given to make this special day a success.

Thanks also to the management and staff at the Cliffs Pavilion, Adventure Island and all the wonderful sponsors (without whom this day would not be possible).

Camden to trial new traffic system along Torrington Place and Tavistock Glen Alutto.

Just when you thought stupid couldn't get anymore stupid, Camden's Phil Jones decides to “reallocate road space from cars to cycling” on Torrington Place, the main westbound relief route into Tottenham Court Road is to be given an extra cycle lanes, that's one in each direction with vehicles squeezed in the middle.

Traffic flow in this area was reduced to constant congestion when the first phase of the scheme saw Torrenden Place restricted to one way westbound traffic, to facilitate a two way cycle lane. The situation has recently deteriorated as south bound traffic on Hampstead Road wishing to join Euston Road east bound is now needlessly diverted around Gower Street, turning right into Grafton Way, right into Tottenham Court Road where eventually Euston Road East bound can be accessed. The added fuel used by vehicles diverting and congestion caused has seriously impacted the air quality at this junction.

Camden Council is now to experiment with a new traffic system along the east-west cycle route linking Fitzrovia, Bloomsbury and Kings Cross to address concerns about motor traffic volume and road safety, before starting work on its major West End Project.

Cyclist Councillor Phil Jones, cabinet member for transport, is due to sign off a decision this Wednesday that will allow a 12-month trial of the changes.

Jones said the trial “will reallocate road space from cars to cycling”.

During its West End Project consultation Camden was severely criticised by residents groups in Fitzrovia because of the predicted increase in westbound traffic caused by changes to Tottenham Court Road.

Concerns centred on the projected doubling of motor traffic in Torrington Place because of restrictions on private vehicles and taxis on Tottenham Court Road after completion of Camden’s West End Project.

However, residents on the western side of Tottenham Court Road are also concerned about increase traffic in Charlotte Street and other streets because of Camden’ West End Project. Camden has yet to announce any plans to address these concerns.

On 1 June 2015 the High court of Justice refused an application for judicial review brought by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) against Camden Council. The LTDA had argued that Camden had not followed proper process before coming to a decision on the West End Project transport changes.

The High Court will however reconsider its decision at a hearing in open court on 1 July 2015 after a request by the LTDA.

   Source : Fitzrovia News

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#Enough3 United Taxi Trade Demo at Palestra

Today's protest at Palestra was a complete success. 
Amazing support from all Taxi trade orgs, Mayoral candidate David Lamie, the GMB and even representatives from our French colleagues in Paris. 

Together, drivers formed a united front against TfL's refusal to fully enforce private hire regulations in regards to certain company's abusing the regulations and statutory legislation.

A big "Merci Beaucoup" to Milan who came over from Paris this morning to support his London brothers. A true case of 
entente cordial at its best.

The Police tried to cut off access to Blackfriars Road, therefore taking the string out of the demo by cutting off a constant supply of Taxis. 

But their tactics were outflanked by the Cabbies who realised what was happening.

Engines were turned off and the protest took the form of an impromptu sit in (if it's good enough for cyclists, it's good enough for cabbies)

Drivers sat under the railway arch out of the scorching direct sunlight, singing songs, while organisers spoke to traffic police, demanding to exercise their right to peacefully demonstrate. To our amazement, the police agreed not to employ heavy handed tactics and the tow away truck was removed.

Most of the officers in attendance were good humoured with words of support here and there. The officer I spoke with who was diverting traffic from Blackfriars Bridge said he fully understood our protest and if it were up to him personally, he would let the Taxis through. But unfortunately, he was carrying out orders.

It was also pointed out, that the white tape used to partition the carriageway was not put there by the police and we were told by a traffic sergeant that it could be removed to facilitate U-turns.

Conspicuous by their absence, were the usual posse of bus inspectors and as far as we know, no one was seen taking ID or plate numbers covertly.

TfL will no doubt employ the services of their propaganda department and state that a few hundred cabs turned up. But we know different. Using Google live, you could see that large parts of the surrounding area were bought to complete standstill with traffic in some streets not moving an inch for over an hour. 

Well done everyone who turned up. Let's keep this momentum going forward to #Enough4 Windsor house 14th July including the march to Parliament to lobby MPs.  


Statement from RMT's Mike Cash Re 7/7 Anniversary.

A week before 10th anniversary of London 7/7 terror attacks RMT warns of "dangerous complacency" over cuts

A week before the 10th anniversary of the London 7/7 terror attacks, the RMT has warned of "dangerous complacency" on the part of tube bosses who appear to make no connection at all between incident response times and staffing numbers on stations and platforms.

 The union is also pointing out that those London Underground staff who were hailed as heroes ten years ago, as they risked their own lives to evacuate stations and get help to the wounded, are the very same staff who now see their futures and livelihoods on the line and who are being forced to reapply for their own jobs as nearly 900 station staff posts face the axe through cash-led cuts.

 In the ten years since the 7/7 attacks tube passenger numbers have soared and overcrowding is rife across the network, compromising  rapid response times and making a nonsense of the on-going cuts to station and platform staffing.

 RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
 “As we prepare to mark the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 attacks next week, RMT is reminding the travelling public that security goes hand in hand with having adequate numbers of safety-critical staff and it is frankly appalling that those same station and platform staff who were hailed as heroes on that horrific day are having their numbers slashed.

 “It appears from their statements that London Underground’s senior managers and the Mayor himself, make no connection at all between incident response times and staff numbers. That is a dangerously complacent position to adopt and flies in the face of the facts.

 “The bravery of the fire fighters, ambulance staff and other public servants, working alongside our members on the day of the 7/7 bombings, must never be forgotten. Every single last one of them is a hero and they shouldn’t be facing these constant threats to their livelihoods, and the services that they provide, a decade on.”

Editorial Comment:

In the same vein, as we approach the anniversary of the 7/7 bombings TfL compliance teams along with cab enforcement seem to make no connection between the attempted car bombing attacks on Tiger Tiger and Cockspur Street, with the lines of illegally ranked minicabs parked outside London's night venues.

Operation neon is a toothless dog!

A ticket on a car bomb parked on a Taxi rank will not stop it exploding. Enforcement needs to be total. Cars illegally park on ranks should be removed. 

While every emergency service has been told to be more vigilant, it seems TfL compliance has become more complacent. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two Top Uber bosses, Arrested And taken into custody in France Today.

Uber's director general, Thibaud Simphal, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore Coty, director for Western Europe, were both held for interrogation by police on Monday. Authorities said that they were being questioned over "illicit activity". 

Bernard Cazeneuve, France's miniser of the interior, has said that Uber's service is "illegal" and has ordered police to keep it off the roads. 

The arrests follow a raid on Uber's Paris offices in March, during which police took computers, mobile phones and documents.

Uber has faced rising anger in several countries, particularly in France where a taxi strike last week turned violent as drivers set fire to vehicles and blocked highways, creating a headache for thousands of tourists.

In March a raid on Uber's Paris offices as part of the investigation saw police seize cellphones, computers and documents.

UberPOP has been illegal in France since January, but the law has proved difficult to enforce and it continues to operate.

On at least two occasions in Strasbourg in eastern France last week, taxi drivers posed as customers in order to lure Uber drivers to isolated spots where they were assaulted by cabbies and their vehicles damaged.

Licensed cabbies say Uber is endangering their jobs by flooding the market with low-cost drivers.

San Francisco-based Uber, which offers several types of ride-sharing services, claims to have 400,000 users of its low-cost UberPOP service in France.

Legal woes

Uber has become one of the world's most valuable startups, worth an estimated $50 billion, as it has expanded to more than 50 countries.

But it has faced regulatory hurdles and protests from established taxi operators in most locations where it has launched as it moved from chauffeur service to more informal car-sharing.

Uber has been hit with court injunctions in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and France, and has faced protests from taxi firms in numerous major European cities, including London and Brussels.

In France its UberPOP drivers do not pay social charges, do not need to undergo the 250 hours of training mandatory for French cabbies and do not require the same insurance as taxis.

The French investigation is also targeting Uber for allegedly keeping private data for longer than is allowed under a 1978 information law.

Uber has contested the probe and has filed complaints with the EU against France, Germany and Spain for trying to shut it down.

Hungary became the latest country to crack down on ride-booking app Uber, with the government confirming Friday that only licensed taxi drivers would be able to use the service from 2018.

Unacceptable violence

The taxi strike in France last week saw some 3,000 cabbies block access to the capital's Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports.

Ten people were arrested, seven police officers were injured and 70 vehicles were damaged in clashes between Uber drivers and taxi drivers.

US rocker Courtney Love was caught up in the chaos and tweeted that protesters "ambushed" her vehicle and "were holding our driver hostage".

The widow of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain condemned "unacceptable violence in a democracy, in a country like France" and said she would be "safer in Baghdad."

    Source Yahoo News And Telegraph online

Tomorrow's Demo At Palestra : A Quick Reminder From Dizzy.

Hi all, just a quick reminder that the Palestra Demo is tomorrow at 2pm. 

Come and show your displeasure at the way LTPH have virtually destroyed this trade. 

Be there and tell everyone you know too. 

For the first time ever this demo will be supported by All the taxi trade orgs. 

It's gonna be big. It must be big. It needs to be big! 

It needs every single one of us to attend and get this destruction of our trade STOPPED! 

Also please be aware that most of the TfL/LTPH senior managers have moved to 230 Blackfriars Rd, which is a few hundred yards up on the same side. Don't forget to let them know you're there! 

The posters and banners are made, the drums & horns are ready...Lets give it to them! 

See you there... 


Unsung Heroes And Exceptional Acts Of Kindness

It's almost ten years since the horrendous 7/7 bombings in which 52 lives were needlessly taken, leaving the lives of family and friends shattered beyond belief. The heinous acts carried out on that day touched the lives of many people. A colleague  of mine Harry, a London Taxi Driver from North London, lost his beautiful wife Sue. 

But what always amazes me, in times of great deserter, is the way ordinary folk step up to the mark and everyday heroes arise from within the carnage, performing exceptional acts of heroism and kindness, then disappear back into the crowd. Reports came in the next morning of how groups of Taxi drivers aided by radio circuits, had given a free service, reuniting walking wounded and hard working emergency staff with their loved ones.

The events of 7/7 touched the lives of many, including that of my late wife Christine, who was working for TfL at the time. Along with her colleagues, she volunteered to stay at her post and worked through the night on a 36 hour shift. Part of the service they provided that day/night, was to try to identify victims from belongings found at the scene. My Christine received a silver award from TfL for services that day, but never traveled on the underground again.

A Church of England priest in Bristol, Julie Nicholson gave up her ministry soon after the attack and became known as ‘the vicar who couldn’t forgive’. Few would blame Julie for struggling to forgive the men who killed her daughter Jenny and 51 others on that day.

    Julie Nicholson. "is forgiveness always possible?"

As she mourned the death of her eldest daughter, Julie started to write down her thoughts, which later became the bestseller "A Song For Jenny", a reference to the madrigal A Silver Swan which was sung at Jenny’s funeral.

Below is an excerpt from her book that tells of an extraordinary act of kindness, performed by another unsung, everyday hero, when Julie came to London to attend the two minutes silence, held one week after the bombings.

She wrote:

This taxi drew up to drop someone off and as I went to jump in the back he told me he was going off duty. I begged him to take me to Paddington and I don’t know whether he saw the helplessness or the hopelessness in my face but he let me in. He asked me what I was in London for and when I told him he was very quiet for a little while. 

We pulled up outside the station and Paddington was very busy. 

He said, “Are you ready for this?” 

I replied, “I’ll be OK when I get on the train.” 

He then turned to me and said, “Why don’t you sit back where you are and I’ll drive you home.” 

And so he did. 

I was met in Reading by my sister and my cousin and when I asked how much I owed him he said, 

“You don’t owe me anything. Just remember there’s still goodness and kindness in the world. If you can do that then you’ve paid me.”

‘I never thought to ask him his name and I tried to find him for weeks. But I believe he wanted to be anonymous. This London Taxi driver, represented all the kindness that we as a family have received in bucketloads.’

A song for Jenny has now been made into a dramatic film which will be shown on BBC1 Sunday 5th July at 9pm.