THE INDEPENDENT Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) trade union is demanding that private hire drivers should not be a casualty of the operator licence fee war being fought by Transport for London (TfL) and the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) in the High Court.
A judicial review hearing into the rise in operator fees – now costing between £2,000 and £2,900,00 depending on the size of PHV fleet – was due to take place as PHC went to press but the IWGB maintain that TfL’s licence regime is already unfair to private hire drivers no matter who wins the High Court legal battle.
A spokesman for the IWGB said:
- TfL’s licensing regime is irrational because it places a disproportionate financial burden on individual drivers for the licensed private hire industry. The Uber and AddisonLee employment status tribunals concluded that drivers work under the control of licensed operators who take the lion’s share of profits while drivers typically earn below the minimum wage. Private hire drivers contribute £18.5m per annum in vehicle and driver licensing, while operators only pay £2.4m. Under the new scheme proposed by TfL the annual cost for operators would go up only to £9.2m.
- TfL is in breach of the Equality Act 2010 due to its failure to properly consult with private hire drivers before changing the licence fee regime or indeed, at any time. Eighty per cent of London’s 117,000 private hire drivers that self report identify themselves as Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic, yet TfL consistently denies private hire drivers a voice by not recognising any organisation that exclusively represents their interests in its stakeholder process. Meanwhile, 24,000 black cab drivers, of which the 80 per cent that self report are White British, enjoy representation in the TfL stakeholder process through official recognition of five separate bodies. In addition, TfL places a lower licence cost burden on black cab drivers.
- LPHCA’s challenge is also irrational as it is seeking to de-link the compliance regime for operators and that for its drivers and vehicles which are directly under operator control. This is not only nonsensical, but such an approach could undermine an integrated approach to safety and compliance and would run counter to the public interest.