Unite members working as taxi drivers will step up their campaign for Welsh government support through a protest in Cardiff city centre. Unite’s taxi driver membership is calling upon the Welsh government to provide a financial package of support for the Welsh taxi trade. The income of Welsh taxi drivers has plummeted throughout the Covid-19 crisis and their ability to access adequate financial support to replace their lost income has left many of them struggling to pay their mortgages and feed their families.

In addition to the Welsh government support for other sections of the Welsh transport system, Unite is calling for similar measures to cover taxi drivers.

Unite is calling for the establishment of a “hardship fund scheme” alongside financial grants to taxi drivers to install screens in cars and the purchase of essential PPE.

Taxi drivers will stage a socially distanced demonstration outside Cardiff City Hall, Cathays Park from 10.30-11.30 today (Tuesday 24 November 2020).

Speaking ahead of the demonstration, Peter Hughes, Unite Wales regional secretary, commented: “Our taxi driver membership is in crisis and feel that today’s protest is the only way to get their voices heard. Taxi drivers have received little Welsh government financial support during the Covid-19 crisis and have seen their incomes fall through the floor. Our members feel as if they have been forgotten and left to fend for themselves.

"Unite is calling upon the Welsh government to introduce a range of measures to ensure our members are able to financially survive this crisis. Their plight is desperate and they need support now.”

Unite Wales regional officer Alan McCarthy commented: “Taxi drivers differ from the wider self-employed workforce, in that there has been no real reprieve even when local and national lockdowns are ceased. The trade relies so heavily on other sectors, particularly hospitality, that any lingering restrictions on these sectors leaves a devastating impact on earning opportunities for taxi drivers. When people do not go out to socialise at weekends, they do not use taxis. When people are widely working from home, and not commuting to and from an office, they do not use taxis. When parents are working from home or furloughed, they choose to drop their children to school themselves instead of using taxi school contracts.

"While other sectors have been able to view the ceasing of lockdowns and easing of restrictions as an opportunity to regroup, this has not been the case for the taxi trade. For those that work in the trade the downturn has been consistent since March. A greater acknowledgement of the unique impact on the taxi trade is required from government, to ensure that these people are not forgotten about.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

The protest by Cardiff taxi drivers will take place from 10.30–11.30 on Tuesday 24 November 2020 outside Cardiff City Hall, Cathays Park.

Unite Wales is calling for action in the following areas:

  • A hardship fund scheme similar to that provided to bus and train operators whereby funds are set aside to provide payment in return for transporting key workers.
  • Grants for provision of safety screens in cars.
  • Drivers to be supplied with PPE .
  • Funding of personal mental health support for drivers who struggle with anxiety and isolation.
  • Suspend for an initial period of 3 months all fees relating to drivers badges and taxi plates with a review after this period – and to order retrospective refunds for all payments made since the start of the pandemic.
  • All vehicles requiring a plate extension, as per the Local Authority Rules, be granted an automatic extension for the same 3-month period.

Sign the Unite taxi petition - https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/support-welsh-taxi-drivers 

Taxi drivers and Unite officials will be available for interview

For further information please contact Glyn Conolly on 07974 131771.

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.