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14 July 2017

Police Seize Uber Car After Crash In Brighton...No Insurance. Call For Operators Licence To Be Immediately Reviewed


On Friday July 14 2017 an Uber TfL minicab was involved in a collision in Brighton & Hove.

This vehicle was then seized by the police for having no insurance

Uber actively encourages not only TfL minicabs but also ph vehicles from all over the country including Leeds.. Wolverhampton... Liverpool .. Reigate to name just a few..... to work in Brighton & Hove despite promising the council that they would only use Brighton & Hove licensed vehicles and it was only by chance that this uber minicab being in a collision that it was found to be uninsured.

We hope that no party received any injuries.

The Brighton & Hove council have absolutely no control over protecting the public with Uber using vehicles not licensed by the council in the city and we call for the Uber Operators Licence to be immediately reviewed

The photographs of this incident that were taken from our Brighton & Hove Taxi Trade Forum Facebook Group were also published in the local paper:


Andrew Peters
Secretary
GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section



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MPs Warn Of Taxi Law Loopholes...TfL Accused Of Facilitating Abuse.

Safety measures around taxi licencing set up in the wake of the Rotherham abuse scandal are being circumvented by rogue drivers, a cross-party group of MPs has said.

Loopholes in national licencing laws are being exploited by private-hire cab drivers and their firms and are putting public safety at risk, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis revealed.

More than 50 Rotherham taxi drivers were stripped of their licences last year after it emerged their cars were places of abuse or used to ferry girls around for sexual exploitation.

After the scandal emerged all taxi drivers in the town were required to install CCTV in their cabs and undertake DBS safety checks.

But in a new report the APPG on taxis said drivers were registering their licences in neighbouring authorities to circumvent the rules.

In Reading a ban on app-based taxi service Uber has ended up with its drivers applying for licences under the Slough and Windsor authority and continuing to work in the town.

And Southend drivers who had been banned for criminal convictions continued to drive under licences issued by Transport for London.

APPG chair and Labour MP Wes Streeting, who has written for PoliticsHome on the issue today, said: “Passenger safety is being put at risk because minicab drivers and operators are using loopholes in the law and a patchwork quilt of different safety standards across the country to flout rules introduced by local authorities to keep their residents safe.

“It is time for government to act to avoid a repeat of the Rotherham scandal.”

The APPG called for new national standards ensuring all taxi journeys begin or end in the local authority where the driver’s licence was issued.

It also demanded a national database of registered taxi and private hire drivers, new licencing standards across the UK and beefed up DBS checks.

Taxi Leaks Extra Comment:

TFL's Leon Daniels, bending over backwards to help with their 'special relationship' with Uber.






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Rachel Griffin, Susie Lamplugh Trust "Posing As Legitimate Minicab, Preferred Method Of Dangerous Sexual Predators"


        How will your night end???

Back in 2014, clause 10 was dropped from the deregulation bill that went through parliament. 

This would reflect the view that all over the UK, (except in London according to TfL) there is a massive public safety issue, and that only licensed private hire drivers should be driving licensed private hire vehicles. 

Unfortunately for the traveling public in London, TfL say that anyone can drive a private hire minicab around the capital, whether they are licensed as a PH driver or not. 


This includes people who just want to avoid paying the congestion charge, but also, (and even more worrying) dangerous sexual predators looking for fresh prey, can purchase a minicab, complete with TfL licence roundels, without holding a PH driver's or operator's licence and in the case of sexual predators, go straight out and look for fresh victims. 

How hard would it be to produce these?

Taxi drivers have to have a purpose built vehicle, carrying both a registration number plate from the DVLA and also a TfL Hackney Carriage plate, plus we are also required to have our badge number emblazoned on the ID card identifying the driver. 

Acting as a Minicab driver, is the most favoured method of a sexual predictor (according to Rachel Griffin of the Susie Lamplugh  trust). Currently, TFL's Minicabs are only required to have an unreadable yellow disc, in most cases obscured by blacked out windows. 


Considering the security status we currently find ourselves in, it should be imperative that only TfL registered drivers should be allowed to drive minicabs. 

The drivers of minicabs should themselves be identifiable and should be matchable to a particular vehicle by means of their badge number, clearly displayed on front and rear windows.

If TfL can easily mandate Credit Cards in all London Taxis, then they must be able to mandate that licensed Minicabs can only be sold to licensed drivers, with the caveat that any person driving a minicab must hold a PH licence. 

This won't stop the attacks and rapes but it will make identify the attacker easier.  

Silent Sadiq Khant:
Our hypocrite of a Mayor, the one who refuses to meet with the Taxi trade orgs has recently written to the Home Secretary demanding more resources to protect against "marauding terrorist attacks". 




And yet Under Khan, TfL and the Met turn a blind eye to TfL registered minicabs (which could be bought and driven by anyone) parked up and waiting at all major mainline stations. 

TfL recently announced that PH driver numbers exceeded 117,000. 

#UberRape
A recent FOI request has shown that Sexual assaults including rapes in just Uber cars, has increased from 32, by a record 50% to 48 on the previous year. That's almost 1 a week.
Assuming Uber are no worse than other PH drivers, and currently make up approx 20% of the PH trade, going on the law of average, there could be many serious sexual attacks weekly across London. 

On top of this, you also have the unlicensed predators.

Yet our licensing authority seem more concerned with Taxi drivers, over ranking at main line stations!!!

Compliance teams regularly turn a blind eye to PH and in many cases are regularly overstepping their authority. 

Taxi Leaks have recently received a number of complaints from drivers who say they have been told by COs at Euston, they are going to be reported for wearing their badges on lanyards that are too long.
 
So it's ok for a terrorist to park outside a major rail link, but Taxi drivers mustn't wear their lanyards too long!!!

Since when have TFL's COs become fashion police?

Could someone from TfLTPH please show me where in the legislation or regulations it gives the required length of Lanyards because I can't find it in any Hackney carriage act of in the Abstract of Law.

Many COs are refusing to show drivers their authorisation ID cards, after showing the driver just their sherif style badge (they are legally obliged to show their ID).

Drivers have also been asked to unscrew their insurance cover notes so COs can examine more closely.

This is totally ridiculous behaviour from TFL's COs and totally unacceptable. 

Remember, always ask to see a COs authorisation card and photograph it with your phone (you have the right to do this). Should the CO refuse, then do not comply with any of his/her requests.

Also, if asked to sign their hand held PDA, you have the right to refuse.

The training given to these officers from TfL is inefficient and woefully inadequate. Most of this new batch of COs haven't got a clue what act or regulation they are supposedly trying to enforce.


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13 July 2017

Please insert your Post Code below to find your local Constituency and MP.

Our demand for a Statutory Public Inquiry into TfL is defined in these articles.



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Key Uber Employee Leaves the Embattled Tech Company In Yet Another Sex Scandal


The Uber manager who headed Susan Fowler’s department has departed

AG Gangadhar ran the engineering unit where the former female engineer — whose blog post on sexism sparked recent investigations — worked.

AG Gangadhar, was the director of the department buffeted by an allegation of sexual harassment and discrimination.

Five months ago, ex-Uber engineer Susan J. Fowler published a blog post, in which she said she had repeatedly complained about sexual harassment and discrimination at the ride-sharing company, but was ignored or punished. In the post, 


Fowler also said she had requested to transfer out of her department but, “according to my manager, his manager, and the director, my transfer was being blocked” due to undocumented performance problems. 

In reality, she claims she had a perfect performance score and there hadn’t been any complaints about her performance.

In addition, emails obtained indicate that engineers within Fowler’s department complained to higher-ups that Gangadhar and a subordinate manager were ignoring Fowler’s issues with another manager who had allegedly sexually harassed her.

“Multiple people are pissed off about this stuff being swept under the rug and not being taken more seriously that a new [lady engineer] was sexually harassed by a former manager,” read one email sent to Uber CTO Thuan Pham’s former executive assistant. That person later responded that Pham was aware of the situation and would discuss it with human resources.

That manager who Fowler claimed harassed her was fired five months after she first complained about him to human resources.



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12 July 2017

The APPG On Taxis Report, Lessons From London : The Future Of The UK Taxi Trade

You can read the report here

The APPG on Taxis today launched their comprehensive report Lessons from London: the future of the UK taxi trade after a three month investigation led by its Chair Wes Streeting MP. It calls on the Government to give the Mayor of London the power to cap the number of Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) on London’s streets, stop cross border hiring, and set out a robust set of minimum licensing standards for taxis and PHVs across the country.

The pollution and congestion on London’s streets is no long sustainable, with nearly 9,500 deaths each year caused by long term exposure to air pollution and congestion on the rise due to the massive increase in PHVs on London’s streets – now standing at 120,000 according to Transport for London. To limit the increasing numbers of PHVs and improve congestion and air quality, the Mayor of London has asked Government for the power to cap PHVs as part of his recently launched Mayor’s Transport Strategy.

This cap in London will be ineffective without the Government acting to stop ‘cross border hiring’, as PHV drivers could simply avoid it by being licensed in neighbouring authorities such as Watford. Councils across the country are currently unable to effectively regulate who operates in their area due to the Deregulation Act 2015. When Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council tried to institute tough new licensing regulations last year in the aftermath of the child grooming scandal, they found that taxi and PHV drivers could avoid them by being licenced in neighbouring authorities and then legally operating in Rotherham. 

The report makes a number of recommendations, including calling on the Government to:

  • Grant the Mayor of London and any other Mayors or combined authorities who request it, the power to cap the number of PHVs;
  • Create a statutory definition of cross border hiring whereby a journey must “begin or end in the licensing authority where the licence was issued”;
  • Consult on statutory guidance for taxi and PHV licensing and set out a robust set of minimum licensing standards for all licensing authorities.

You can read the report by clicking here



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Back in 2014, clause 10 was dropped from the deregulation bill that went through parliament. 

This would reflect the view that all over the UK, (except in London according to TfL) there is a massive public safety issue, and that only licensed private hire drivers should be driving licensed private hire vehicles. 

Unfortunately for the traveling public in, TfL say that anyone can currently drive a private hire minicab around the capital, whether they are licensed or not. 

This includes people who just want to avoid paying the congestion charge, but also (and even more worrying) dangerous sexual predators looking for fresh prey can purchase a TfL licensed minicab without holding a PH drivers licence.

Even though the Taxi trade have to have a purpose built vehicle, carrying both a registration number plate from the DVLA and also a TfL Hackney Carriage plate, plus we are also required to have our badge number emblazoned on the ID card identifying the driver. 

And yet, the most favoured method of a sexual predictor (namely a licensed minicab driven by an unlicensed driver) is only required to have an unreadable yellow disc, in most cases obscured by blacked out or tinted glass. 

Considering the security status we currently find ourselves in, it should be imperative that only TfL registered drivers should be allowed to drive minicabs. 

The PH drivers themselves should also be identifiable and should be matchable to a particular vehicle by means of their badge number, clearly displayed on front and rear windows.
If it's good enough for Taxis...then it's good enough for PH. 

TfL recently announced that PH driver numbers currently exceeded 117,000. A recent FOI request has shown that Sexual assaults including rapes in just Uber cars has increased by a record 50% on the previous year.

And yet our licensing authority seem more concerned with Taxi drivers, over ranking at main line stations. 

Compliance teams turn a blind eye to PH while in many cases are regularly overstepping their authority. 

Taxi Leaks have received recent complaints from drivers who say they have been told by COs at Euston, they are going to be reported for wearing their badges on lanyards that are too long. 

Many COs are refusing to show drivers their authorisation ID cards, after show the driver just their sherif style badge (they are legally obliged to show their ID). 

Driver have also been asked to unscrew their insurance cover notes so COs can examine more closely.



This is totally ridiculous behaviour from COs and totally unacceptable.   


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Oxford city council targets it's 107 licensed taxis to cut emissions



Oxford city council plans to phase out older taxis from operating within the city, and will look to invest over £500,000 for the installation of dedicated electric car charging points, it has announced today (11 July).

The investment forms part of a wider plan to reduce air pollutant emissions within the city, after it was revealed that air quality improvements in Oxford have begun to slow down after improvements made following the introduction of a Low Emission Zone in 2014 (see airqualitynews.com story).


Changes to licensing requirements for taxis operating in Oxford are expected to come into effect from 2018
The city council is working with the City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association (COLTA) on the scheme, which will see 19 electric vehicle charging points installed for the exclusive use of hackney and private hire taxis. The council’s aim is to install the first seven in 2018, and the remaining 12 in 2019.

The council has also announced its intention to set an age limit on all hackney carriages operating in Oxford of 18 years and require all newly-licenced hackney carriages to be ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) – with licensing changes expected to come into effect from the end of 2018.

Public health
Councillor John Tanner, executive board member for a clean and green Oxford, said: “Oxford has illegal levels of air pollution in some parts of the city, which is affecting the health of residents. Every vehicle in Oxford is contributing to this major public health emergency.

“We are working with the county council on plans to introduce a Zero Emission Zone from 2020, which will restrict access to Oxford city centre for emitting vehicles, and will go a long way to getting air pollution below legal limits. This new scheme will provide the electric vehicle charging infrastructure to help get Oxford’s hackney cabs ready for 2020.”

The charging points will be ‘rapid’ and ‘fast’ chargers to enable drivers to quickly charge batteries during breaks, according to the council.

Charging points
The locations will be finalised following consultation with drivers, but potential locations include Oxford Rail Station, Gloucester Green, London Road, Cowley Road, St Giles, Summertown car park, and Redbridge and Seacourt park and rides.

The city council was awarded £370,000 of funding from the Government’s Office for Low Emissions Vehicles for the project. It will also seek to secure the remaining funding from private investment.

It is hoped that the infrastructure and licensing changes will see nitrogen dioxide emissions from Oxford’s 107 licenced hackney carriages reduce by 50% by 2020.


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11 July 2017

TX5 Launches In London : As Another Electric Car, Left Trickle-Charging Overnight Bursts Into Flames.

The Taxi the trade doesn't want and can't afford, officially launched in London today. The TX5 is powered by a battery electric powertrain with a 1.3-litre petrol generator, a system which its maker calls eCity. It can charge from empty to 80% in 20 minutes on a rapid charger. But you won't find many rapid chargers in London, so it's more like two hours, on a fast charger, or overnight it's eight to 10 hours on a trickle charge.

News also in today of another electric car completely destroyed by fire, left charging over night. Lucky for the owner that this time, the car was not housed in an adjoining garage, or this could have been even more of a tragedy


The 2017 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive car had been left charging overnight outside an office, which was damaged by smoke from the fire, at the Rettendon Turnpike junction in Wickford, Essex.

Two fire crews fought to extinguish the blaze, which hit temperatures of 300 degrees Celsius, in the early hours of this morning.

Destroyed: The 2017 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive car had been left charging overnight outside an office, which was damaged by smoke, at the Rettendon Turnpike junction in Wickford, Essex

Officers also had to ventilate the office block to bring the situation under control.

Pictures of the car, which has a 17.6kWh battery, show its gutted body and the melted remains of the lithium ion battery pack.

A spokesman for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: 'An electric car which was left on charge outside an office building has been 100 per cent destroyed and caused smoke damage to a building after catching alight.

Back in April, a Tesla owner demanded $1million after the Falcon Wing doors of her Model X 'wouldn't open' during a crash.

Owner Lee Tada claimed she and her boyfriend were sitting in the back and had to escape out of the front doors moments before the car burst into flames.

But representatives of the electric car makers in China said the company would not pay out and that the couple's lives were not in danger. 


Almost 50,000 electric or hybrid cars were sold in Britain last year, and one in every 30 cars sold is now powered by electricity.

Many are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which are also one of the most popular types of rechargeable batteries and used in many mobile phones. 

But they can sometimes explode and catch fire when overheated – as was the case for Samsung’s notorious Galaxy Note 7 phone, which was banned by airlines and which the company was eventually forced to recall at a cost of billions of pounds.

Lithium-ion batteries contain two electrodes – one made from lithium and one from carbon – submerged in a liquid called an electrolyte that lets electrical charges flow between the electrodes. 

If a battery is charged too quickly, it can cause metal-like whiskers called dendrites to form and pass through the liquid electrolytes, resulting in a short circuit that can lead to explosions and fires.


Source Daily Mail 

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10 July 2017

Mini-cab Driver Who Sexually Attacked Lone Women Has Been Sentence To 12 years


A mini-cab driver who sexually attacked lone women has been sentence to 12 years' imprisonment at Snaresbrook Crown Court today, Monday 10 July.

Jahir Hussain, 37 (24/03/1980) of Morris Road, E14 had previously pleaded guilty, on 15 May after one day of his trial at the same court, to Two counts of rape, three counts of sexual assault, one count of assault by penetration, as well as two other linked offences.

The conviction and sentencing follows an investigation by the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Command.

Hussain attacked three women, one on 21 October 2016, and two in the early hours on 2 December 2016. Whilst he was registered to work as a mini-cab driver, he was not actually working when he picked his victims up and attacked them.

On 21 October 2016 Hussain picked up his first victim in the Old Street area as she made her way home. Hussain attacked her after she fell asleep in the back of his car. His victim woke to find Hussain in the back of the car with her, and that he had cut off her clothing. Hussain then repeatedly attacked his victim before driving her home.

On 2 December 2016, at around 02:00hrs, Hussain was again in the Old Street area when he asked by his second victim if he was the mini-cab she had ordered. He wasn't, but he lied and told his victim he was. His victim got in the car, fell asleep, and again awoke to find Hussain in the back of the car with her. The victim waking up seemed to stop Hussain from carrying out any further attacks. Under the pretence of actually taking his victim home Hussain instead drove to an abandoned industrial estate. His victim managed to escape the car, and Hussain fled the scene in his car, abandoning his victim there.

From that attack Hussain went back to the Old Street area and picked up a third victim at around 0400hrs, acting a as a mini-cab driver despite the victim not having booked one. Again Hussain's victim woke to find him in the back of the car, having cut her clothing off and attacking her. Hussain again drove his victim home.

In both incidents in December led to the identification of Hussain's number plate and he was arrested at his home on 3 December 2016. He was charged in the early hours of the next day.

Forensic evidence then linked Hussain to the October attack and he was further charged.

DC Samantha Dart, the officer in the case, said:

"Hussain is a predator who exploited his employment as a mini-cab driver to seriously sexually assault vulnerable females. Women should be able to go out and enjoy themselves without fear of assault. 

"We are grateful to all three women for having the courage to report these matters to police, and for their continued support throughout the investigations.

"The strength of evidence against Hussain was overwhelming which led to him entering guilty pleas and the sentence handed to him reflects the gravity of his offending."

Acting Detective Inspector Steve Birchall, the supervising officer in the case, said:

"Hussain is a predatory sex offender who has taken advantage of his position by targeting vulnerable women he has picked up while acting as a mini-cab driver. Travelling home by mini-cab should be a safe method of transportation and Hussain is in no way reflective of the numerous taxi drivers who offer this service every night in London. He has been identified and now convicted through the presence of mind and strength of the three women in this case who have had the courage to report what happened to them to the police."

Full breakdown of offences and sentencing:

1. Rape (contrary to section 1 Sexual Offences Act 2003); 
2. Rape (contrary to section 1 Sexual Offences Act 2003);
3. Sexual assault (contrary to section 3 Sexual Offences Act 2003); 
4. Assault by penetration (contrary to section 2 Sexual Offences Act 2003).

All against the 23-year-old woman on 21 October 2016

5. Sexual assault (contrary to section 3 Sexual Offences Act 2003); 6. False Representation to make gain for self (contrary to sections 1 & 2 Fraud Act 2006). 

Both against the 31-year-old woman on 2 December 2016

7. Sexual assault (contrary to section 3 Sexual Offences Act 2003);

8. Battery with intent to commit a sexual offence (contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and section 62 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003). sentenced to 2.5 yrs to run concurrent

Both against a 29-year-old woman on 2 December 2016

Hussain was sentenced to 11 years for counts 1,2 and 4; two years for count 3 - sentences for counts 1-4 are concurrent; two years for count 5; no separated penalty for count 6; one year for count 7; and two and a half years for count 8 - sentences for counts 7 & 8 are concurrent.

All con current sentences are to run consecutively - 15 and a half years - reduced to 12 years (with a minimum of eioght) for guilty plea, with an extended license of six years on release.

Hussain was ordered to be on the Sex Offenders Register for life, and is subject to a an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order preventing him from working or posing as a taxi, minicab or other driver, and preventing him from being alone in a private vehicle with a lone female (other than a family member) or unless the lone female has been notified of his conviction.

TAXI LEAK EXTRA NEWS

Furious passenger films 'Uber car bursting into FLAMES after crash' leaving him stranded in middle of the M4

Photo Red Anad




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Potential implications of Taylor report for Uber drivers


This evening The Telegraph published a reporton what they say will be in the Taylor report on Modern Employment Practices due out on Tuesday. The report, commissioned by Theresa May, will advise the government on changes believed necessary to employment law.

A few points in The Telegraph piece immediately jump out:


Mr Taylor will also call for companies to harness their technology to tell workers how much they are likely to earn before they log on to work.

Mr Taylor will stress that companies will not be obliged to pay workers a minimum wage if they “knowingly” work when demand is low or those who complete tasks at a slower pace than average.

This is designed to ensure enhancing workers’ rights does not trigger unsustainable wage increases. Mr Taylor will instead call for a system that offers the opportunity to earn at least the hourly minimum wage to people who want to earn more, make themselves available to work during times of demand, and work at an average pace.

He will say those who choose to be self-employed and work for several companies simultaneously will be able to enjoy extra flexibility but will not be entitled to a minimum income.


On the first point, the obvious question is how an employer like Uber would predict shift earnings. UPHD members can testify that Uber throttles job supply to drivers on a range of factors that are deliberately kept opaque. This was even reported upon by the New York Times this week. We know the dispatch algorithms discriminate and the field between drivers is not level so would an earnings prediction be based on what a driver could make or what Uber will allow him/her to make?

Next, tying up earnings commitments to average job completion rates in the transport sector is dodgy territory indeed. Here the driver and platform will get locked into a dangerous productivity game with drivers pressured to complete more jobs per hour to hit the earnings target. The implications for public safety are obvious. And what of those days when you just can't perform at the average rate due to unusual traffic congestion or horrendous weather conditions? Maybe there is a state visit in  central London for example or a snow storm. Is a driver to assume all external business risk factors and be denied the minimum wage in future that is guaranteed now? If so that marks a definite backward step.

Taylor suggests drivers suffer a penalty for 'knowingly' working during off peak times. However, in the private hire trade a driver must be able to cover overhead costs for vehicle financing and insurance. If he or she is to be penalised for working off peak then the on peak rate has to be much higher so that over head can be absorbed there. Otherwise the driver will have to 'knowingly' work off peak to cover his costs and he should not be subsidising his operator at unfair labour rates for doing so. The whole point of a minimum wage is that it should be applied across an average of all hours worked. One would certainly hope an Uber driver could make the minimum wage for peak hours but with this plan Taylor puts his foot on the scale in favour of app operators. He effectively gives Uber et al a pass by allowing them to guarantee the minimum wage only for the most profitable hours while dumping the unprofitable but necessary hours on to drivers without a minimum wage guarantee the current law provides for.

We've crunched the numbers for illustration. The first column shows average weekly hours and income for 'Top Drivers' published by Uber. The costs estimates are based on standard industry rates. We can see, as things stand now, even Uber's 'Top Drivers' earn below the minimum wage and would be entitled to protections with their 'worker' status under employment law.

However, if the proposals reported in the Telegraph are true, and if we estimate conservatively that 24 hours per week are considered 'peak hours' then we can see  from the below table that Uber escapes any responsibility to top up wages and holiday pay would only accrue on half of the hours actually worked. Worse still, drivers would be forced to work at a loss just to continue to make essential contributions to weekly over head costs associated with the vehicle. Working only peak hours would not be a viable alternative as it would see the driver earning only £6.19 per hour and when this is topped up to minimum wage, take home pay would be just £180 per week. A part time driver claiming in work benefits would immediately run into problems that would also effectively force him to work off peak hours at an economic loss. Remember, if you end up working for two operators simultaneously then all bets are off - no protections at all for you.


 

This off peak penalty is placed on the worker so as to head off 'unsustainable wage increases' and here we see Taylor's conscious bias. Uber has a fantastically profitable underlying business model so how can a minimum wage guarantee to its workers be 'unsustainable'? How about the fact that the London living wage of £9.75 per hour - where 30,000 or 75% of Uber's UK workforce live, a wage level to which the Mayor of London, who licenses London's private hire drivers, is a determined advocate - is substantially more than the national minimum wage of £7.50 per hour which Taylor discounts as 'unsustainable'for off peak drivers? How about the unsustainability of a driver working at an economic loss just to make a contribution to overheads? And what about the ebb and flow of workload of any worker? Should corporate mail office staff be paid less in the afternoon because they processed incoming mail in the morning? Should teachers be paid less for supervising play time or during summer holidays than for in class teaching time? Should firemen be paid less for periods where there are no fires? Should nurses working night duty be paid less than daytime nurses because many patients are asleep? Should flight cabin crew be paid less for duty on half full flights? This is the very nature of modern day labour exploitation that risks being now legitimised by Taylor.

The last point about multi operator employment is most troubling of all. Many workers have been forced into the insecure gig economy due to the absence of alternatives. Throughout the debate on the gig economy over the past few years employers have placed flexibility for sacrifice on the altar of security. It's always been a false trade off and now Taylor appears to be backing up a false argument. The reality for private hire drivers is that the only flexibility they really have is to work more hours. UPHD members already work 48 hours a week at an average of £6.4o per hour. There is no alternative app to work for and it would not be practicable to do so as a driver would be auto logged out of one or the other for not accepting jobs on one while engaged with the other. Now it seems Taylor will strip away the already minimal rights we have for the dubious benefit of the flexibility we need just to survive. In a private hire market that is already far over supplied this will only further accelerate a race to the bottom. Nobody expects a driver to be paid twice for the same period of work but we should not expect to lose the right to the minimum wage from one, other or a combination of both.

And yet none of this need have been rocket science. None of this is at all technology contingent. For years taxi regulations in British Columbia have had a perfectly simple and workable solution for drivers to be guaranteed the minimum wage. They simply reckon up with their respective employers once a month - if they fall short they are topped up. If they earn more then everyone is happy. But Taylor's solution could see UK drivers getting caught between two operators who oversupply the market deliberately and ensure the driver loses out on both flexibility and security.

As most are aware, UPHD co founders Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar are lead claimants in a successful claim brought against Uber at the London Central Employment Tribunal for worker status. This claim guarantees the right to the minimum wage and holiday pay for all Uber drivers. Uber have decided to appeal and the case will now be driven forward under the leadership of the IWGB union of which UPHD is now a branch.

To clarify what worker status means: it is a category of self employed status. Where someone is so dependent on the contracting firm, where they all but control a driver's business then drivers are entitled to some basic employment rights like the minimum wage and holiday pay. In our case the Employment Tribunal found 13 reasons why Uber truly controlled a driver's business and so qualified all drivers for worker status. The factors the Judge took into account includes the fact that Uber:

  • Selects & interviews drivers
  • Controls all information
  • Drivers must accept work
  • Sets routes
  • Sets price without any input from drivers
  • Manages driver performance
  • Refunds customers directly
  • Dictates contract terms
  • Manages all customer complaints
  • Provides guaranteed earnings schemes
  • Imposes terms of service
  • Holds sole responsibility for bookings
  • Accepts fraud risk (if truly independent a driver would have to accept credit card fraud loss)

Maintaining worker status is important to drivers because it sets a floor in the market below which no driver earnings can fall. Also, it enforces a carrying cost of capacity on Uber to stop it over supplying the market and flooding the circuit. Providing way too many drivers delivers Uber and customers an important benefit paid for by every driver - the benefit of immediate customer response. It is this instant response that keeps customers coming back to Uber. There is even a name for it: positive network effects.

Make no mistake, UPHD has an ambition for every driver to earn far more than the minimum wage. The first step though is making sure nobody gets paid less and that every operator, including Uber, is made to pay for the excess capacity it puts into the market. This not only helps stabilises driver earnings by matching driver supply with true market demand but it also prevents excessive congestion and air pollution - no small matter in London right now.

We have expressed concerns about how the Taylor review was carried out and today's reports, if true, just underscore that the review simply never really understood the problems of Uber and other operator's drivers today. We invited his team to meet and take evidence from drivers but they declines to do so.

The big question we will be looking to answer when the Taylor report finally comes out and we can review it properly is 'will private hire drivers be better or worse off?' If we are worse off as a result of the review then we must conclude the whole process was stitch up to entrench predatory platform commerce and insecure work in the UK economy.




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What A Pantomime: Mayor Khan Says London Is Open...Oh No It's Not !


From midday until approximately midnight on Wednesday 12 July, a number of roads in and around Trafalgar Square and Whitehall will be closed to all traffic. This is due to an event. 
Travel advice
 
During this time, Trafalgar Square will be closed on all approaches. Whitehall Place will be closed from 06:00 and Pall Mall East from 09:00. The following taxi ranks will be suspended:
  • Whitehall Court (Royal Horse Guards Hotel)
  • Whitehall Place (Corinthia Hotel)
  • Suffolk Place
  • Strand (feeder rank for Charing Cross Station)
  • Embankment Place
 
If you make or receive deliveries in central London on Wednesdays, you will be unable to use the closed roads and may be affected by congestion and increased journey times. 

Please allow more time for your journey and consider an alternative route. For full details and to know your travel options, please click link http://ift.tt/2tFPMcC

Yours sincerely, Leon Daniels. 



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9 July 2017

Anti-Uber activist Russell Howarth ordered to pay $400,000 in legal costs

An anti-Uber activist who was slapped with a court order banning him from intimidating and harassing drivers has been ordered to pay almost $400,000 in legal costs, in the final chapter of a protracted court battle.

Russell Howarth, a self-proclaimed anti-Uber advocate who performed citizen's arrests in a campaign against the ride-sharing service, was permanently restrained by the Supreme Court in April from threatening or harassing Uber drivers and users of the app.

Back in 2014, Russell Howarth was best known for carrying out his numerous citizen's arrests in his battle to bring the taxi industry's hi-tech rival, UberX, to heel.

Mr Howarth, an undischarged bankrupt, represented himself during the bulk of the proceedings while Uber was represented by three barristers including Sydney silk Bruce McClintock.

In a decision last week, Justice Michael Slattery ordered Mr Howarth to pay $391,152 in costs, representing about 60 per cent of Uber's total legal bill.


Russell Howarth has been hit with a $400,000 costs bill after a legal battle with Uber. Photo: Steven Siewert
Justice Slattery said the barristers' fees alone were $433,564 and it was a "single strong indicator" that the amount sought by Uber was "not excessive".

The solicitors' fees were an additional $195,651 and other costs were just over $30,000.

Mr Howarth rose to prominence through a series of stunts starting in 2014 in which he would book an Uber ride and, when the transaction was complete, perform a citizen's arrest of the driver for breaching the state's Passenger Transport Act.

The law was subsequently changed in NSW in late 2015 to legalise Uber and other ride-sharing services.

In his judgment in April, Justice Slattery noted that "not every contravention of the law that a citizen witnesses will authorise the conduct of a citizen's arrest".

He also said a contravention of passenger transport regulations was not a serious offence that would "readily attract the citizen's power of arrest".

Mr Howarth had not established that the arrests were necessary in the circumstances, Justice Slattery said, and he could have used his mobile phone to take videos of the drivers and their vehicle registration details to pass onto the police.

The court heard Mr Howarth performed nine citizens' arrests of Uber drivers, starting in late 2014, until the Supreme Court granted a temporary injunction in July 2015.

Justice Slattery said that while this "stopped the arrests" the "intimidation and harassment continued". This included an incident on the Anzac Bridge in August 2015 in which Mr Howarth followed an Uber driver at close range and "terrorised" him.

The court heard Mr Howarth asked the driver, "Don't you know who I am?"

"[The driver], who genuinely up until then had not heard of Mr Howarth's campaign against Uber, responded 'No,'" Justice Slattery said.

Justice Slattery granted a permanent injunction restraining Mr Howarth from intimidating or harassing Uber drivers and passengers, and restricting his ability to make citizen's arrests to cases involving a serious offence.


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