You spend your entire adult life defending unionised workers and what do you get to show for it? Last night poor old Owen Jones was nearly knocked off his bike by a dangerous black cab driver, who then wound down the window and told him: “I f***ing love it when you cyclists die”.
By contrast last night Guido took an Uber home in peace, no grief from any self-entitled unionised loudmouth…
Militant cabbies who vowed to blockade Trafalgar Square have boasted how their threats forced Sadiq Khan to give them everything they wanted. Last week the London mayor conceded almost every single one of the cabbies’ demands, as well as imposing punitive regulations on Uber. What might explain the timing? Well, the militant United Cabbies Group were threatening to bring London to a standstill this week unless Khan caved in. It would have looked pretty bad for the Mayor given he’s off making friends in America at the moment. The capitulation came and now United Cabbies Group have cancelled the blockade as “the Mayor brought forward his announcement because of the pressure of a demo”. London could have a Mayor who stands up to union intimidation, instead he gave in to blackmail so his photo op in the States wasn’t ruined…
Sadiq Khan has caved in to the taxi unions and awarded black cab drivers a staggering £65 million taxpayer subsidy, 100 new taxi ranks across London and the installation of 90 highly expensive rapid chargers, which electric private hire vehicles will not be allowed to use. At the same time the Mayor is forcing new red tape on private hire drivers, including “advanced driving” and written English tests which black cab drivers will not have to take. So how did the taxi unions end up getting everything they wanted?
Khan’s “action plan” contains 27 measures, almost identical to the 28 measures in the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association manifesto. The day before the plan was published the Deputy Mayor for Transport took part in a photo op with the head of the LTDA. Sadiq himself met the head of the LTDA on his hundreth day in office. By contrast Uber has not been consulted on any of the new measures – indeed the Deputy Mayor for Transport has ignored two invitations to meet Uber drivers. It’s notable that the LTDA are the only people outside City Hall and TfL in today’s press release – it’s clear that they have been heavily involved in drawing this up while private hire firms have been shunned. Sadiq promised he would be a Mayor who doesn’t give in to vested interests. Instead he’s capitulated to the taxi unions. Rather than level the playing field by reducing regulations on cabbies, he’s slapped red tape on the innovators who make travelling across the capital so much cheaper and easier for passengers…
Karhoo is the new challenger to Uber, offering a “marketplace” for existing minicab firms to compete for your lift. Announcing its expansion today in Parliament, a gathering of taxi firm operators, politicians, and even a GMB representative turned up to hear the British CEO Daniel Ishag talk-up the firm’s three to five minute wait time in central London. The GMB private hire drivers’ union is this week challenging Uber over workers’ pay in the Central London Tribunal. Acting as an aggregator for minicabs, Karhoo is seeking to get around all the difficult TfL regulations, letting cab firms sort it out for themselves. Karhoo handing out £25 gift cards for MPs in attendance doesn’t do them any harm, either…
The black cabbies’ union has launched a PR offensive to convince Londoners they are willing to modernise, vowing to spark “London’s taxi revolution” with super-fast wifi, credit card payments and ranks outside night tube stops. All sensible, consumer-friendly suggestions from the black cab industry, which needs to innovate to keep up with the competition.
Unfortunate then that a group of cabbies are also crowdfunding legal action against new TfL rules to install credit card machines in their cars. Despite the fact that there is huge public demand for this service, Action For Cabbies is asking for £300,000 to challenge TfL over the machines in court. Publicly they want to look like modernisers, less publicly they’re challenging the very same modernisations they claim to support. Why could they possibly be so keen to make sure they’re only paid in cash?
Meanwhile leaked emails show the United Cabbies Group is setting up a clandestine attack unit to do in TfL and Uber:
“we can assure you that the team we have chosen have a track record. They work under the radar and do not make a “song and dance” they are very low key but very effective. TfL and Uber won’t see these people coming. Of course they will know that something is happening but they will be on the back foot as to the tactics because they won’t know who we are using and hence what their modus operandi are. We have already paid for a team of investigators to start the background work.”
Not that “under the radar”, it turns out…
The anti-progress Licensed Taxi Drivers Association are really angry about the Leytonstone stabbing… because it seems the knifeman may have once been an Uber driver:
— LCDC (@The_LCDC) December 7, 2015
— BassCabMan (@BassCabMan) December 7, 2015
Who knew cabbies had such advanced Photoshop skills?
UPDATE: The LTDA probably shouldn’t be so pious: