Thursday, September 15, 2016

Letter To Taxi Leaks : "The Better I Do My Job Today, The Better We All Do Tomorrow"


Our trade has written numerous articles and blogs in recent times, as many drivers (myself included) feel compelled to express our anger and frustration at the injustice we see unfolding before our eyes.

But one issue that is not so well documented is the personal strain that many drivers and their families are feeling as a result of the relentless morale bashing we are all experiencing. It's inevitable that tensions in family life rise as worry over job security and the ability to provide for our families takes its toll.
The natural reaction to take out daily frustrations on those closest to us is something we must not give in to.
We must constantly remind ourselves   that our partners are also feeling the same pressure and are worried on our behalf - even if they may roll their eyes occasionally after we mention the dreaded 'U' word for the umpteenth time each evening!

We must remember that for many of us, they were by our side throughout the highs and lows of The  Knowledge, from helping us call over to providing support after a disheartening appearance, they were with us. Every time the stresses of our current situation arise we must not forget this.

It is, of course, perfectly understandable for us all to feel deflated at the moment.
Without just cause the media relentlessly drags our good name through the mud proving the immense power of PR in its ability to sway public opinion into any direction it wishes. The avalanche of unfounded, and often personal attacks, on our character continues week after week as we ask ourselves
"What have we done to deserve this treatment?"

Each and every taxi driver has always played by the rules, following guideline after guideline not simply since they became a cabby, but from the minute they signed on to The  Knowledge. From that first obscure Manor House to Gibson Square run we have built a bond with London and a love of everything we thought it stood for.

TfL and our current government seem to be doing their utmost to destroy that bond as they actively  undermine our contribution to our city and play down our worth to the general public. Let us not kid ourselves that TfL's distain towards our trade is a new phenomenon. Since they inherited us from the Metropolitan Police, they have shown an ongoing and growing resentment to a trade that has done nothing more than give exemplary service to Londoners for over 300 years and is still the world leader in its field today.

Without even the pretence of impartiality from our regulator, is it any wonder that many drivers are feeling so undervalued and possibly even losing faith in London itself.

Yes London is changing and always will - but improving? I'm not so sure.  The London I grew up in seemed to have stronger values. It was a place that was built upon a spirit of fair play without the need to tread on everyone in your way to reach your goal. The 'comply or you are expendable' ethos is typical of London's new working culture and is very evident in the cut-throat nature that is being shown to the cab trade. Our government continually preaches  about how prosperous London is, whilst ignoring the fact that it's workforce is forced into working excessive hours in a city that none of us can afford to live in anymore.

Don't get me wrong, London is still the greatest city in the world, it's just that much of its greatness is being dismantled by government officials that seemingly tread a fine line between corruption and incompetence. Many of our current politicians are happy to give away yet another homegrown industry to uncaring foreign corporations that meticulously calculate how they can take as much from this country without giving anything back.

This is exactly what is happening to the London taxi trade. Under the pretence of innovative technology our government and regulator are effectively sanctioning a corporate takeover where the little man will be voiceless, controlled and kept firmly in his place. But what can the average driver do to fight back? 
It goes without saying that the minimum we should all be doing is to lobby and apply pressure to the MPs in question and support trade demos. The majority of our day to day issues we drivers have no say or control over; fare structures, traffic schemes and choice of vehicle to name just a few. We, therefore, must make clear demands of our trade orgs as they represent our voice in the above issues.

We have a choice to either let the deterioration of our working environment beat us into submission or we can roll up our sleeves and raise our bar even higher to provide a service that the public is thankful for.

The over-saturation of the private hire market means the public have more choice than ever before. However, this has also led to PH standards sinking to new depths. 
Through our quality of service we must ensure that the majority of the public only use a minicab because a black cab was not available and not vice versa.

As 25,000 sole traders we must replace our 'we work for ourselves' belief, with a 'we work for each other' mindset. 'The better I do my job today, the better we all do tomorrow' is the necessary mantra we must adopt to have any chance of surviving and flourishing again.

The overwhelming sense of achievement we all felt when completing The Knowledge is something that unites us all.  It is impossible to convey that 'badge day' feeling to someone who has not experienced it. Any driver who has been interrogated in a 24ft room by Mr Ormes or Mr Finlay knows that anything Leon and Travis throw at us is trivial in comparison. 

So the next time you put on your badge, puff out your chest and wear it with pride like it's the day you were awarded it. We have a long battle on our hands but when our battle is finally won and family life returns to normal, we can thank our loved ones for their unwavering support. After all, they are the ones we were really  fighting for all along.

John (@Igot Ormed)


Anonymous said...

Lovely artical if only if it was true, majority of your artical is spot on but unfortunately a very small minority( like in any business) are distant dinasours from the picture you portrait, and these small few are killing the trade and putting punters into rivals..I'm sick of the amount of times I've wanted to pay by card at the end of the evening only to see a rotten sock over card machine and a written sign CASH ONLY..I'm appalled the times I've been told from the west end "sorry mate Kingston upon Thames"is not my direction and sending me too far from central, how can we complain about business if we are turning down £55-£60 jobs 0n rate3!! We can rant and rave about things beyond are control,and have every right to complain about injustices in our trade , But simple bad practices and purely selfish behaviour by a small few is destroying the image of this trade and effecting the business for the majority of londons finest!! Remember it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only seconds to destroy!! We are in control of of own destiny and let's see if that old saying is true"The Cream Will Always Rise To The Top!!!

Anonymous said...

Well written, you pretty much nailed it. Though as a city i have to disagree its the best city in the world, it aa horrible place. Its become a foreign country within the uk as far as im concerned, not somewhere i recognise any more.

Anonymous said...

Two good posts (above) and with all the will in the world I am trying to exclude all the ladder puller uppers taxi drivers who have had this trade at their disposal for many years.. yes disposal.

I still hear how the good times are behind us, and that is mainly from older drivers who made their money from doing only what suited them and post one above highlights that today.

Im no spring chicken I agree, but the trade turned into a fiasco when politics become its master that is the simple truth, and when I see a channel 4 interview with our first mayor outside his Cricklewood home in his string vest I shudder to think how on earth our trade reps saw any confidence in dealing with such a cunning slug who lead this trade into ruin whilst at the same time used our license fees to fund the private hire set up and the creation of licensing, ..yes it did happen, we supplied funds to set up mini cab licensing, and now minicab licensing is so much more lucrative due to the overwhelming numbers... tfl cant survive without that funding and bends over backwards accordingly see the accounts!

London taxis have a product brand that is a world wide identifiable brand the london black cab just as the red london bus ... but (Ive said this before long ago) buses are protected and we are not because if uber had tried to set up a bus stop app which allowed for example £1 fares from central london bus stops ...they would be halted immediately because this would cause chaos to the funding grants tfl pays out to all the bus companies because any unvontrolled business interference would create revenue losses, but as taxis are not subsidised they could effectively vanish overnight and tfl will still earn via increased private hire licenses being issued its win win tfl.

Our lobbys are more important now than they have ever been before so back all petitions online or otherwise, and stand up for what you spent years qualifying for also all the knowledge boys & girls who are still trying to pass out, because if they suddenly stopped being attracted to do the knowledge our trade will finish much quicker than we actually realise.

Be Lucky


Not MW said...

All well made comments, but it's deeper than that, when the Berlin Wall fell the multi nationals took that to mean 'well those suckers can't run elsewhere' even if the alternative wasn't attractive, since then we have had the Oligarchs, Lehmann, Austerity and the likes of 'Sir' Phillip Green and Mike Ashley rise up.

The EU turning from a worthy intent to yet another tool of the banks, just ask the Greeks, intentional uncontrolled migration to cheapen your bargaining position, forget any bullshit about humanity, it's economics only.

Uber,Deliveroo just more manifestations of the same 'keep em
Poor, keep em docile agenda .

The percentage of wealth owned by the richest 1% grows ever larger and elderly patients left to rot on trolleys in A&E and we are all supposed to like it, still there's always the Premier football, the masons, X factor and TAXI to keep the 'plebs' distracted,

So what's to do?

Well whatever your politics right, left or centre above all remember their end game for us a return to those good old Victorian values, casual labour, no rights and for most grinning poverty and longer hours.