Firstly, it's absurd to suggest TfL don’t know the protests are happening.
I deal with TfL police/Met/ MPSRTPC most weeks and depending on what other events require additional deployment their attitude can range from mildly accommodating to assertively aggressive. Believe me, TfL know the demos are happening as 36 bus routes have to be diverted. What the Met really hate is for us to move about; the threat of which, allows the protest in the square to be constant.
Relevant bodies at TfL have proposed talks but The ITA have categorically refused on the basis that the proposed dialogue is not genuine nor is it intended to sort the problems out.
Being invited around the table is NOT the end game and six years of a phoney engagement policy is testimony to that. As far as the ITA is concerned, DIALOGUE IS DONE. Either TfL address the situation with credible and acceptable solutions or WE PROTEST.....or shall I say the core 500 WILL PROTEST.
One thing is unequivocal, the ITA will not be complicit in enabling punitive policies being implemented against the cab trade. FULL STOP!
Most of you would have read Paul Goghlan’s acutely observant post on FaceBook with optimism.
Few however, will have grasped the nucleus of the point he was making.
To emphasise it somewhat, the decommissioning of thousands of taxis will leave the cab trade unable to fulfil its remit as an official, city-wide taxi service. And yet the reduced fleet - and subsequent upturn in work- has everyone jumping for joy as though the waves from an oceanic drought have come lapping back to the shore.
Dear god, I can only smash my bloodied face against a brick wall for so long.
By all means don’t demo, sit on your hands and cheer-lead what this page offers. I’m all for that, but whining on because someone’s tried to wake up the status quo is something I’m not gonna lose sleep over.
Deleting posts that stir up mild conflict has more to do with dissipating dissonance than it does supporting the trade. For goodness sake, allow the space for healthy debate - and the facts - to prevail.
Defending doing nothing IS NOT THE ANSWER. There’s no need to fall apart at the seams in defiance against a non-compliant message. Criticism doesn’t warrant a call to action where the ensuing result is to cling to the prevailing slumber. Cognitive bias is not a sign of collective strength, and believe me, parallels drawn with the LTDA is not a good look. Surely there are times you should lead your men into battle for f*ck sake!
That said, some frayed knots need sealing...
Bank Junction was lost by the LTDA. The ITA was asked to cease demoing so the City and the LTDA could collate data pertaining to the adverse effect that restricting access would have on our earning potential. This could not proceed if the protests continued.
All those with memories a little more robust than a gnat reaching the end of its life span, will recall me arguing against adversity in favour of halting the demos as I believed the stats would determine the trades quickest return through the Junction.
Even though The ITA had paved the way for the ‘all trade’ negotiations they were never invited to attend the meetings and despite a sterling effort made by the ITA and Ray from the RMT (who submitted collision and congestion data respectively) those negotiations subsequently failed from the outset (they were told that a traffic order had already been instructed and that Bank Junction was it not up for negotiation)
Why? Well for one, there were no demands made and no timeline for when those demands should be met. Which in my book is nothing short of LUDICROUS!
The impact assessment that was carried out by the LTDA was so far-fetched that the remake of Journey to the Centre of the Earth carried more credibility, and it was dismissed out of hand. Surely, it is inarguable that trade representatives need to understand what the fight is to be able to contest it?
Not dissimilarly, and for the record, the negotiation policy is - and has always been- a total utter catastrophe for our industry, simply because it has taken away the threat drivers hold over policies implemented against the trade.
WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR DRIVERS TO GET THEIR HEADS AROUND THIS?
The political route is redundant because the trade has absolved itself of bargaining power. TfL’s negotiating policy has succeeded In the trade believing it has achieved its end result by merely being invited around the table.
IT HAS NOT! THE TRADE HAS BEEN RENDERED IMPOTENT!
We have gained nothing, yet TfL has garnered a firsthand gauge on what the cab trade can - and more significantly - what the trade CANNOT do. It is the biggest disservice that the trade has ever inflicted upon itself.
Why does the trade think the traditional way of refusing to accept adverse policy isn’t permissible through the engagement policy?
Why do we accept everything TfL lumbers us with?
Why can we no longer say that we do not accept policies that work against our best interests?
Why can’t we tell TfL that they need to find another solution?
We have absurdly allowed them to take away the threat of collective rebellion, that’s why!
I repeat for the millionth time;
THE POLITICAL ROUTE ALONE HAS UNEQUIVOCALLY FAILED.
If McNamara believes the political route alone will win the day - as he has done for the last 11 years - then why doesn’t the cab trade have ONE SINGLE MP asking questions on our behalf on the floor in the House of Commons?
Why don’t we have representatives that can offer deputations and give evidence in our favour at local traffic management meetings?
It’s an unmitigated farce and we’ve fallen for it hook, line, and sinker; all to protect a bunch of 70-80 year-olds that wouldn’t know their arse from their elbow when it comes to the future of ‘eco-transport/smart-city‘ solutions.
Do not delude yourselves for one moment that cosying up to Wes Streeting will save us. And if McNamara is so keen on him why didn’t he have the diplomatic courtesy to greet him at the branch meeting organised by his own members?
Streeting’s failed ten minute bill was a PH Bill to benefit minicabs. No doubt his 60k per year fee to host the APPG will keep him paying lip service to the trade for as long as he needs to (Wes and Sadiq will not politick polemically) And aren’t we glad we have MyTaxi and Gett speaking for us on our behalf? Just in case you WEREN’T wondering, TAXIAPP, which offers the only alternative working model to the corporate based apps and as a Cooperative is best suited to represent drivers, is excluded. I wonder why that is? WAKE UP!
The protests are uneventful because the majority of drivers won’t demo, much the same way as they won’t fill out consultations, lobby their MP, contribute to UTAG, support LTPR, or attend the Mayor’s QT once a month. In fact, drivers will spend more time arguing against the demos - and support each other arguing against them - than they would if they turned up for just three hours per week. And most who claim to be adherents did the one offs - not the daily ones; day in day out.
Excuses, Excuses, Excuses.
The time and frequency of the protests are determined by those who attend- and rightly so. If we still did 4pm - 7pm, five days a week there'd be half a dozen die hards, two mop heads and a broom stick willing to attend. Still, as far as I’m aware, taxis are officially included in the remodelling of Tooley St. If I remember rightly, the ITA inadvertently let that victory slip three weeks before Christmas, which just so happened to be five months before the Adams Family at Woodfield Rd -or is it Great Suffolk St- decided to tweet it out.
Furthermore, for the ralliers that never attend the demos, but holler to do bridges, even though most bridges are exclusion zones and an arrest order would be automatic, we still should do bridges... or Hogarth Roundabout... or the Spur Road on the M4. Who do you think would take the hit if we did carry out those suggestions? I sure as hell know the non-attendees of the current protests wouldn’t, especially whilst there’s hay to be made due to 1000’s of cabs being decommissioned! Whoohoo!
The old adage that even predates the The LTDA COM, that you can lead people to water, but you certainly cannot make them drink never rang truer. But what I find inexcusable is the apologists who try to brand drivers who are fighting for the future of all of our livelihoods as the bad guys.
Could anyone of those, please tell me, what is more serious than protesting being taken out of crucial elements of the Mayors transport strategy?
What is more serious than protesting the local implementation plans that adhere to the Mayors transport Strategy that allows the borough councils the autonomy to restrict access to taxis?
What is more serious than protesting being downgraded to a mode of transport that is considered no different to a car driven for private purposes?
What is more serious than protesting not being deemed as an integral part the public transport solution which will displace us into all other traffic; forcing us around costly, time-inefficient routes?
What is more serious than protesting being systematically replaced by ‘dynamically routed, on-demand’ hopper bus services? Whether you agree that this service will succeed or not is not the point.
What is more important than protesting the engineering of a reduced fleet which will influence mainline stations to offer ‘holding spaces’ for private hire (demonstrable already at Heathrow, City Airport, ExCel, Westfield) and eventually opening them up for tender? Why does anyone think we are any different to LUTON!!!!
AND THERE ARE DRIVERS WHO WILL STILL FIGHT AGAINST DRIVERS WHO ARE PROTESTING?!?
As far as the trade goes, we desperately need to find a better system for governance. Many of the irreversible risks that now threaten our trade originate from a rapid pace of industrial development coupled with the monopolisation of emerging technology and an adamance by TfL not to enforce existing legislation
Conveniently for TfL, the system currently in place to represent the trade - and effectively manage many of issues we are facing is done by using yesterday’s tools and by the same people. As a consequence, the necessary action is either not taken or is taken too late, while the problems and risks the industry faces continue to grow and mutate.
The LTDA, UNITE & TFL are NOT apathetic or indifferent to what is happening, they have a totally different agenda to the rest of us. If denial is the issue then there is little more I can do, or say, to convince you that if we don’t defend our working practices now, we won’t have the collective strength to do so in the future.
For reasons of clarity. I would be willing -for this trade- to stand in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, naked, with my thumb up my arse, and pirouette for 25 hours a day if I thought that drivers would support me in defending our working practices. It is however, self evident, that 20k plus drivers will not. But one thing I do know is, there are 400 who would walk through the desert with me if I asked them to and that makes it worthwhile. And the same goes for me, for them. And I hope one day the whole trade will benefit, not just those fighting for us week in, week out.
To conclude (if you’re still reading this then I advise not to pause as it is likely to be deleted) it’s not the 400 who are protesting who will lose the trade access to infrastructure. It won’t be down to the core of the ITA men and women. It’ll be the sterility of those handing our profession over to TfL enabling them to force a one tier system. And disgracefully there’s drivers on here who don’t attend the demos that say, “TfL don’t even know the protests are happening” At least see the blatant hypocrisy- or idiocy through ever increasing blinkered eyes.
Hate on me as much as you like, but it’s the ‘work-on's’ and the ‘stay-at-home's’ who weaken our fight EVERYTIME. And it's the media snipers who strengthen TfL's resolve. Quislings all, shameless and dishonest!
It is only the self-entitled who believe that intransigence - when all else is rapidly changing around us - will prevail.
Fill ya boots, make hay while the stations are going unserved.
Sean Paul Day.