UPHD (United Private Hire Drivers) union is a branch of the grassroots Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB). On 13th Sept they staged a loud and boisterous protest outside City Hall while the London Assembly held their monthly Mayor’s Question Time. The Mayor, and Transport for London (TfL) are currently holding a ‘consultation‘ over whether to impose a Congestion Charge on minicab private hire drivers.

While on the face of this, it may seem an appropriate measure towards some reduction in air pollution, the unions believe it might actually increase congestion as well as place a disproportionate burden on workers who are already receiving low wages and working very long hours. They are also angry that TfL has refused to recognise the IWGB/UPHD, the only union to wholly represent the drivers. In fact, they have evidence that TfL tried to stop the police from holding talks with the union for fear that it might help the case for recognition. So while the 114,000 mincab drivers are only represented by trade bodies that also represent their exploitative gig economy employers (like Uber and Adison Lee), the black cab drivers have no less than 5 unions or trade bodies at the Mayors’ table – they will remain exempt from the proposed congestion charge expansion.

The minicab industry has grown hugely over the last few years, mainly due to operators like Uber. They currently have no incentive to cap the number of drivers they can call on, and the over-supply leads to ever decreasing work conditions and wages, while actually increasing congestion.

The Mayor’s consultation ends on 28th September . If you’d like to support the workers, you can see the union’s demands at uphd.org or iwgb.org.uk and then respond to the consultation at consultations.tfl.gov.uk/policy/private-hire-charge-exemption/
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