Over 8,000 cabbies are set to gridlock central London in a protest over taxi app Uber.
The protest begins at 2.30pm today outside Parliament.
Protestors claim that Uber doesn’t have to adhere to the strict rules black cab drivers have to follow.
Unite, the country’s largest union representing many of London’s 25,000 taxi drivers, is demanding that Uber, which operates self-employed private hire drivers and is based for UK tax purposes in Holland, pays the proper rate of corporation tax in the UK.
Uber, in turn, offered black cab drivers a year’s free usage of the app with zero commission on fares for 12 months. However, black cab drivers rejected this offer.
Chair of the Unite London & Eastern taxi cab section, Jim Kelly said: “It is clear that the government, London Mayor Boris Johnson and the Tory candidate for mayor Zac Goldsmith have all seriously taken against the black taxi trade in London; a taxi trade which consistently comes out top in terms of value and service compared to other cities around the globe.
“We feel that Uber exploits its drivers by using their self-employed status to extract maximum income from them which translates to those drivers working long hours.
“The reduction in safety for passengers because of the ‘light touch’ regime is to be deplored. It is a race-to-the bottom – when in 2016 we want the highest possible standards.
“The London taxi fleet is 100% wheelchair accessible. There is no compulsion on private hire operators, such as Uber, to provide for these passengers.”
Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in London, said:
“This protest was sparked when Transport for London dropped plans for bureaucratic new rules on licensed private hire drivers, such as five minute minimum waiting times. But Londoners made clear they didn’t want to be slowed down with more than 200,000 opposing those proposals.
“We believe black cabs and services like Uber can coexist in the capital. That’s why earlier this week we announced that black cab drivers can use our app to get extra custom with zero service fee paid to Uber for a year. By making the most of new technology we can all improve services for passengers and keep London moving.”