Monday, February 20, 2017

Is My Enemy's Enemy My Friend ? : Is It Time To Fight Dirty ?... By Harry Wall.

I knew that week would be tough but it was a killer and apparently record worthy by half term standards, it's behind us now so onwards and upwards. I'd like you to picture the scene, you're nearly home from work and dreaming of pulling on your drive. When you get there you're met with the sight of a Prius parked on it, pissed off you park behind it. You walk through your street door and see Mr Uber in your kitchen making himself a sandwich with food you've bought, from your fridge. 

You walk into your front room, cuddle up with the wife on the sofa watching your tele when Mr Uber walks in, snatches the remote out your hand and changes channel, sits in your armchair with he's feet on your coffee table. 

There's a knock at the door, your daughter answers it and in walks four strangers, who proceed to empty your house of every thing you've worked your whole life for. They load up a lorry with the lot, everything. They leave you with nothing, the kids have nothing, they even take your cab.
They even strip you of every ounce of self respect you had.

My question is this:
At what point during this scenario do you, would you have grabbed hold of these thieving slags and gutted them like the pigs they are?

If for no other reason than to have protected your family, no man would allow this to happen without a fight.

So why have we allowed imported thieving rats like these to take away everything we've all worked so hard for?
It's such a no brainer, I just don't get it. The reason I ask is because Friday night whilst driving south on Regent Street I noticed three cabs ranked up at Heddon Street. Nothing strange about that I know but what enraged me was second car on the rank was a PH and none of the cab drivers were doing anything about it. I tooted up and shouted across but it fell on deaf ears, they wasn't interested because it's obviously somehow acceptable now. 

When I think of the sacrifices I made on the Knowledge, going out on that moped in all weathers, sometimes soaked to the skin inspite of wearing wets, the numb fingers due to extreme cold in winter, the 17 punctures!! Not to mention being permanently skint but dreaming of passing out and suddenly being flush with fluid cash flow. I could never have imagined 23 years down the line I'd be praying for a miracle to save us, never in my wildest dreams. I remember that day in March when I earned the right to call myself a London Cab Driver.

I told my wife we'd never have money worries again, I'd always be in work. As it turned out my eldest was born with health problems which caused enormous financial struggles on top of the dreadful strain of worrying about him so life hasn't been that straight forward but the jobs been kind to me and I haven't finished with it yet.

People held us in high regard even though they were convinced we were millionaires, but no more. Why?, because we're nothing to fear for the authorities. We're predictable, fragmented, we have no joint leadership or strategy and nor are we likely to have one willing and able to form the structural base from which we can launch the defense spirited enough to fight against this tyranny that is TFL and Uber.

Over this weekend a planned national day of action, to be held on 28th February, was announced by associations across the country calling for an urgent public inquiry into TFL's fanatical licensing of all and sundry without proper procedures being adhered to, resulting in Uber drivers working wherever they like without any fear. 

Local authorities are apparently powerless to act it seems and Taxi and PH across the country are suffering just like us. 
After much thought and a change of mind, I think we should take part in this action.
The idea of going in with PH, given our history of mutual dislike, doesn't sit well with me but we're in desperate times and desperate measures must prevail. Before I'm called a sell out or any other choice name let me explain my reasoning.

All 3 main orgs have decided to go the legal challenge route which is understandable, but that's it, nothing else. I've been waiting, we've all been waiting for all our orgs to join forces, form a coalition and arrange a national day of protest for months, if not years. We've been waiting 5 years for them to sort it out on our behalf but nothing's happened, nor will it ever happen. 

All of a sudden drivers up and down the country, associations including genuine PH drivers have decided to take the matter into their own hands and instead of waiting for the local authorities to deal with it, they're dealing with it themselves and I have to say, fair play to them. Perhaps they had inspiration from our own ITA, who knows, it doesn't matter. 

What does matter is it's up and running and in spite of some people wanting nothing to do with it, I think we've nothing to lose. Our own orgs either won't or can't organise a national even though our fight and the majority of the mobilised members of our trade are crying out for one, so if someone else makes it happen, I'm all for it.
We badly need a public inquiry and I'm now at the stage where I think after exhausting so many avenues of our own with fruitless results, I see no reason why we should dismiss an attempt from elsewhere.

Face it people, we need as much help as we can muster.
We need firm, decisive action on a scale this country has never seen, it has to be unprecedented on a scale the media cannot afford to ignore and if handled properly, who knows what could happen?

French and Italian protests might be linked in with their Uber fight. Even if this first one isn't as successful as is hope it could light the touch paper for bigger and better action in the near future. Uber has destroyed trades throughout the country and the anger's beginning to reach fever pitch which can only be a good thing, fueling the level of future protests.

It's not ideal going in with PH but what choice do we have?

We're all fighting a common enemy here and we need each other, we need to be adults and admit that the common sense thing to do is fight together on this one. Once the battle is won, draw up the boundary lines and carry on as before but for now I think we need to travel the same road.

We can't rely on a legal challenge alone in my opinion, even though the advice comes from well respected law folk. That would be irresponsible in my view which might piss a few people off but I've a right to my opinion, so to run a campaign for a public inquiry along side the legal route, I would suggest is sensible.

Please think it through and make a rational decision with your brain in gear, try and understand we need a public inquiry and it will come easier with help from around the country.

We have to compromise in life sometimes and this is one of those times.

All that having been said, half terms over, it's London Fashion week and for some it's payday on Friday so start the week with optimism and a smile, especially with a Caribbean blast on the way.

It's going to be a good week chaps and chapesses.
Be lucky.


Anonymous said...

One of the best posts ever written on our trade ! Blinding sentiment again Harry. Let the dogs out mate.


Lambros Savvides said...

Harry i have to agree with you ..I would of previously never wanted to of joined forces but as you say this is a national day of UK wide protest against the very cause of our demise and we should stand together on this..Lets not lose sight of the fact that the biggest damage to Uber that has been done by anyone and could possibly change this whole playing field is the action from its own drivers about employment status..If they lose their appeal we will have to acknowledge that those drivers that people possibly previously saw as our enemies will have to be respected and rightly so ..

Veritas said...

When the far sighted Eddie Lambert suggested this 6 years ago, he was abused and vilified by the no nothing's, now we hear that the LTDA will oppose Uber's license AFTER its issued, ' Because it's cheaper' well they did et appeal the BugBugs case or the meter case, they area paper tiger.

The question I ask is even if (if you believe that you might even believe the LTDA is the answer!) it isn't issued what difference will it make? They will just carry on or be licensed elsewhere.

What we have to do is to cause massive problems fo TfL and the political elite until they take our concerns seriously, if that means making a pact with the devil so be it!

We need worldwide action.

Anonymous said...

Good points, but unfortunately the horse has already bolted ,we had our chance to go to court but many drivers refused to part with £20!..unfortunately this trade has a new mind set of drivers,the cancer has already spread Uber is just part of the problem !whilst we allow third parties to dominate our work and more importantly the FIX PRICING of our work,and the mind set of drivers excepting jobs at 50 percent of the meter fare beggars belief! We are no longer in control of our destiny! Basically we are employees of these high tech apps,dictating our work and the pricing of our jobs this is as much our problem as with the big U...good luck with the fight only hope is it's not all too late.

Anonymous said...

I was a minicab driver before I became a green badge. I don't think there's any room for divisiveness, now that we are totally Ubered out UK wide !

Anonymous said...

Have been in this wonderful trade nearly 30yrs, am nearly in tears everyday reading Taxileaks!! Agree with all the comments.
Live out near Gatwick now, get swamped every early morning coming into town, all Uber with jobs and going home.
Own experience, no Gatwick Express from Victoria, offer fixed price to Gatwick £100, knowing more on rate 3, reasonable?
Customers get an Uber for £40, 4 people then I'm asked if I can beat that!!
Is that not one of our biggest problems, I don't think they give a crap about what's going on, only about the cost!!

Anonymous said...

i think our only chance is if the government realise that they are being conned by uber they pay less than minimum wage then the government subsidises uber by paying tax credits to its drivers and where do,es uber pay it,s tax---the netherlands.why aren,t the trade organisations calling for mass demos?could it be they don,t want their funds sequested under anti trade union laws?lets go down fighting,we,ve still got the power to gridlock london lets do it for a week,and lets make phv are allies we,re out numbered and out gunned.

Anonymous said...

It's a simple matter of acknowledging what we as a trade are capable of doing alone.
Two thirds of drivers refuse to belong to an org/union. Those that do are spread out between several orgs diluting the financial clout on offer. The Save Taxi group ran an impressive crowd funding campaign where only £25 from each driver was needed. That failed even though some big money from orgs and businesses was offered!

Can we slay this beast on our own?

The overwhelming evidence says not!

What is it exactly we want from this fight?
Do we want the market to ourselves or are we willing to except a legitimate ph industry that fills voids in the market that we leave?

The whole market has been disrupted,the big ph have been forced to slash prices in order to stay in business and that concept has now filtered through to us. Look at Gett!

The consumer has been consumed with cheap prices and they simply cannot resist them. Why are Uber so popular,is it their driving skills that attracts the consumer?

This fight has changed considerably and we must change our strategy!

Anonymous said...

you fight those, who are fighting you

why aren't we hurting those who are hurting us?

we should be taking our fight to them

we should be endlessly circling their homes, with placards, NAMING & SHAMING them, informing their neighbours, that they are destroying us

it's their lives, that we should be making a misery of, just as they are doing to us

Anonymous said...

100% right Harry. Good article

lee ward said...

Well written Harry and very true.

Semtex asked for a call to arms, and as promised I have delivered, we MUST join forces for this National Protest, the colour of your badge, the colour of the lanyard is irrelevant when the enemy is the same.

Feb 28th, get on it !!!!

CHAS THE CAB said...

Some drivers will no doubt be saying that they can't afford a day off. Well let me tell you,if you don't join, just once, soon you may not have a job at all, and then you will have all the days off. I agree with the comments above re joining forces with private hire, as before Uber, we all got all got along quite well, with maybe a few hiccups, but generally, every thing was ok. There is only so much of the pie, but we deserve more than crumbs. The time for talking is over, so let's be like our European cousins, and take to the streets, literaly, and show this government and the corrupt tfl that we mean business and are here to stay.

Anonymous said...

Its a shame that the UCG and others who are not supporting the National Day of Protest calling for a Public Inquiry into TFL have not even bothered to read the facts.

If they took the trouble to read what this is about they would understand that there are thousands of HACKNEY drivers outside of London who are joining the fight against TFL.
See the comments from HACKNEY drivers in Birmingham , Southend , Liverpool etc

To not support this claiming that it will help Uber drivers is absurd.

Anonymous said...

What are LTC doing about it? 45k for a cab! Only a few drivers can afford this, the price has to come down and down fast. £210pw will get you a rental cab if your lucky. Who wants to get a Taxi with the traffic as bad as it is? It's all a total mess. UBER will be driving our taxis soon that's the only way ltc will survive.That's my guess.

Robert said...

If cab drivers did join forces with legitimate ph

No one could say it's just greedy cab drivers moaning again

The amount of people who think that it's just cab drivers moaning about uber is unreal
They don't realise the way they was licensed was iffy to say to the least
TfL needs to change the rules on gaining a ph licence it's ridiculously easy the topographical test is a joke the lack of a uk licence is down right dangerous
And the. Crb on foreign nationals isn't worth the paper it's printed on

If these 3 simple things were looked at with common sense uber would fold on its own

London Boy said...

GATWICK from staines by UBER is £ 26 pounds ???? Paddington from staines is £ 6.00p heavy discount .

Anonymous said...

The main problem as stated above is that the public don't give a shit as long as its cheap! Can't remember the last time I picked up a student here in Bristol, they come out the main doors and stand around gazing at the mobile waiting for the "London based" TFL licensed Prius to collect them from the very station forecourt that I'm paying Network Rail to work from lol

I have mentioned to a few drivers about the national action day on the 28th and no one knows anything about it, again theres total apathy among drivers here we've been here before with the station permits about 4 years ago, as one of the last stations in the country to have to pay to work, when it came to taking direct action many of the drivers carried on working , not only doing rather well for themselves (obviously pre Uber), but causing massive friction between drivers.

Our problem in Bristol is that many of the guys driving for Uber in their TFL licensed vehicles not only live in the city but are "brothers" of the very same Hackney Drivers they are putting out of business all very sad really.

lee ward said...

This trade has evolved, FACT.

But we as a trade have to fight together to win back what was rightfully ours and to do that both Hackney and Private Hire have to work together.

Hackney drivers across the country are sat on ranks watching PHV pull up, get a customer and drive off, sometimes legally booked through an App, sometimes by Plying for Hire.
The division of some people between Hackney and PHV is going to be their own downfall, mark my words.

Yes, I am a PHV Driver from Sheffield, and Yes, I respect the Hackney Drivers of London who have gone above and beyond to gain a worldwide known qualification of The Knowledge, my respect for you I could not put into words no matter how much I try.

Then, when the country is united in fighting the blight, or even cancer that we know as Uber and our elected Government who do nothing about this tax avoiding, authority manipulating, worldwide trade destructing company, we have both Hackney drivers and some Hackney Organisations pull out the Two Tier Card and cause disruption.

That card that’s been pulled will win one hand, and one hand only, and that’s your death in this industry, oh sure, a few will be kept going for the benefit of the tourists just like the famous Trams at Blackpool.

United in this cause is the only true way to get the message across, even if each area has a different problem, and that message needs to be heard, by being united that message WILL get to where it needs to be.

PHV are not the Hackneys enemy no more than Hackneys are the PHV’s enemy, the enemy is Uber and the Authorities who chose to ignore what Uber do because they hear of the billions of dollars that they have, nothing more, nothing less.

The Authorities will just continue to bully the individual tax paying self-employed man because they can, the bigger companies are becoming untouchable.

America had this years ago with the Truck Drivers until a man named Jimmy Hoffa came along and made the Teamsters…. Well this time, we don’t need any one man to make us a Team, we just need all of the current Orgs to realise that the issue is across the country and not just locally.

Fight the issue, win the issue, then go back to the original them and us battleground, I am happy with that, but to be divided now, well, we have no chance…may as well face it.

Any Org that thinks that this is a PH issue/fight and not a TRADE issue/fight then you are not worthy of the position that you have, feel free to contact me and I will explain it to you face to face if you have difficulty digesting what I am saying. I at least, am here for the trade and with no bias until this fight is won.

Anonymous said...

TFL English test for Phv drivers has now been put back by 6 months,how many more Phv will be sold in another 6 months,I keep on saying it, the best in the world need to lend a hand to the rest of us all over the uk,we checked the uber app on Saturday night there were 48 uber cars empty in Bexley, it was the worst sat. night I ever had in 18 years , it's now or never , the strike needs to be every month, the protest will grow, and grow...Truly if we don't do this now we are all dead...

Anonymous said...

Would it not be a good idea if the orgs pay for a full page add in our national newspaper highlighting national protest?we need to promote this demo to both drivers and public, we need to seek national coverage!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, as always Harry! And I'm with Lee Ward on this one! The fight is NOW, the time is NOW and we must be united NOW! I don't think we have any more time to waste. If we allow the government, the authorities/TfL and U##r yet one more inch, then the journey for us really is over. We should all be showing up at an undisclosed (to the media etc) site with our banners and placards telling the public and the media why TfL should be in court. The government and the Mayor of London all know about the corruption between U##r and TfL but don't want the public to know, as they too have been implicit in this sorry saga.

Well, things are slowly coming to light! What with Ajit Chambers and Leigh Miller, UCG's petition delivered to the PM late last year, the massive following on social media, the brief t.v. and media coverage discussing the downfall of U##r, tax losses, drivers demanding worker's rights and so on........ The media and the public are starting to take notice and a bit more pressure, one almighty united demo, might just push TfL and U##r face down over one of our famous bridges!

I also agree that the orgs should have used some of the driver's subs to pay for an editorial in a national newspaper highlighting the reasons for the demo!

The 28th is nearly upon us. Does anyone have leaflets to hand out? Does anyone have banners and placards and if so, what are they all saying? Do all cabbies know about the demo? (Even if they do, they'll use the 'I didn't know' card). If this is to be done, then everyone should be singing from the same song sheet!