PICTURE THIS… It’s December 25th and many people will be with family and friends at a restaurant paying over the top for their meal, but happy in the knowledge that they or a family member does not have to cook and clean up.
They know the staff preparing and serving their meal are, at the very least, earning time-and-a- half and whilst sipping an overpriced wine console themselves with the fact they got a cheap price for the mini-cab journey that took them from home to the restaurant.
Why do people find it acceptable to pay for a door-to-door service without giving any extra to the driver who, like the restaurant staff, is missing out on time with his/her family, but unlike them is probably working for the equivalent of a standard fare?
Most people accept that everyone earns extra over the holiday period. They are even willing to pay the attentive waiter or waitress more than the usual twelve per cent for their great service. Yet even though the journey home with the minicab driver is fast and efficient, they don’t feel the need to give him a tip, as they perceive that he is busy and is earning plenty.
The reality however, is rather different. On standard fare, on a major public holiday, he is not.
Christmas is a national holiday, which is viewed as such by many who, though not Christian, enjoy the chance to share time with loved ones, on what is one of the few holidays in the UK where the whole family can get together.
Yet private hire drivers, unlike many, are missing time with their partners and families and will be lucky to spend any reasonable amount of time with them, before they head off for work. So, the least they should expect is to be paid more than on a regular working day.
Time for a national minimum mileage rate?
And it is not only at Christmas time or national holidays when drivers should expect a little more. Private hire fares have hardly gone up in the last decade, yet running costs have increased greatly.
It is the opinion of many drivers that a minimum fare increase is needed and the GMB pro drivers branch agree.
However, we would take it a step further and suggest a minimum national mileage rate.
The national minimum wage is £6.50 and the living London wage is £9.15, yet for many private hire drivers the minimum fare is below £4.00
How many jobs can a driver achieve in an hour?
You could say that many jobs are longer and so the average hourly rate is higher. But we say not, when you consider the low mileage rate that many drivers are earning.
There are companies out there that consider a company driver working a 60-hour-week and earning £300, is acceptable.
It is not. That works out at £1.50 below the national minimum wage.
Now we appreciate that whilst this is the modus operandi for some companies, it isn’t for all. For this reason, we are encouraging good operators to sign up to a voluntary minimum earnings and fare agreement.
No more working hours agreements
The criteria to work at many private hire companies is 5 x 12 hour shifts. They insist drivers sign a contract before they accept them onto the circuit. But once the driver has signed, they’re trapped.
As already mentioned, some of these drivers earn £300-a-week and that’s before fuel costs and other reductions!
GMB says, if you are self-employed do not sign. If all drivers refused to sign this contract, a private hire company will drop the enforcement of hours. They will not have a choice, as without drivers they won’t last very long.
As a member driver we will help you achieve this goal. Strength in numbers is what’s required.
If you want to help your fellow driver and yourself, you know what you need to do.
That’s it from us for 2014. Hope you all have a safe, happy and prosperous festive season and a fruitful start to 2015.