8 April 2020
Taxi Unions Calling For Support From The Government Amid Coronavirus Crisis
Though taxi drivers are important in our society for getting us from one place to another, they have not been classed as essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the past weeks, it has been suggested that taxi drivers can be used to help essential staff get to and from their workplaces each day, such as those working in the hospital.
Whilst companies such as Uber have offered free rides to those who work for the NHS, there has currently been no offer from the government to help subsidise taxi driver wages.
The union “Unite Wales” has called upon the government to pay drivers so more will be able to help during the crisis. In March, the union launched a national campaign with the aims of getting financial aid for public and private hire taxi drivers now rather than in June. They argued that if the payments are made now, it would allow drivers to keep on top of their finances.
The news website TaxiPoint recently conducted a poll to 408 drivers that revealed 84% of taxi drivers would be willing to accept any kind of NHS or government fixed contract.
Alan McCarthy, the Regional Officer for Unite in Cardiff, said in a video statement: “Our self-employed taxi drivers have seen their earnings decimated by the COVID-19 crisis. Employees are seeing some relief through the job retention scheme, however, the self-employed are feeling forgotten and left behind. They’re being asked to wait until the end of June to see any real financial support from the government, and for the majority, this is far too long to go without a liveable income.”
The Union has called for:
– Immediate wage support, no waiting until June
– No means of testing for Universal Credit or other benefits
– The suspension or reduction of all taxi related running costs, including licence plate fees, monthly radio fees, rental fees
– Backing loan repayment holidays for private hire vehicles and moratoriums on marking down drivers’ credit files
– Emergency interim payments help keep taxi drivers on the road
– A review of the licence regime, and stopping all payments of licences, with a three month temporary extension for those who are expected to renew in the next 12 months