Statement from Chairman, Len Martin.
Also included is Tom Watson’s letter to The Mayor, which was sent last night.
I’m writing to you in advance of developments which will shortly be released to the media. But first let me say that you, the drivers, have been at the forefront of the campaign to bring TfL and Uber to book. Your commitment to saving our 350 year old trade is second to none. With great pride we are recognised as the ‘gold standard’ for taxi drivers worldwide. You are living proof of that.
But our livelihoods have been at threat from unfair and unregulated competition for too long; and by a “woefully inadequate” regulator, which refuses to take our concerns on board. We pride ourselves on keeping London moving. The fact that we have been forced to take industrial action over these recent months is a mark of just how bad things have got.
And we are winning the fight. After the first two demos, we saw a parliamentary intervention and met with MP Tom Watson to express our concerns. We handed over thousands of complaints against Uber. Days later Sir Peter Hendy resigned from TfL. This was no coincidence.
On the 30th of June we took to the streets again. With regret, we gridlocked central London. Not a single arrest was made. Two further industrial actions were planned.
At this point the UCG phones started ringing off the hooks.
Yesterday, Tom Watson MP, concerned both by the disruption to London’s workers and by the plight of our members, requested a meeting with the UCG at Westminster.
After hearing what Mr Watson had to say, we decided to suspend all pending industrial action, in order to allow parliamentary process the chance of moving the fight forward. Of course, if this comes to nothing we will take to the streets again, gridlock the city, escalate our campaign and potentially take it to the airports. We will also consider a legal action. No stone will be left unturned.
Last night, Mr Watson wrote forcefully to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, requesting that he enter into negotiations with us and that he address the appalling failures of TfL. A copy of this letter is included below.
Questions will also be asked of ministers in parliament and Mr Watson has committed himself to doing all he can to find a resolution to our legitimate concerns.
People said it couldn’t be done, but you are winning the fight to save the trade.
We will keep you abreast of all developments as they unfold.
United Cabbies Group.
Letter to Boris Johnson From Tom Watson MP
Mayor of London –
I have today met with Trevor Merralls (Campaigns Manager), Angela Clarkson (Secretary) and Len Martin (chairman) of the United Cabbie Group.
As I’m sure you know, UCG is the fastest-growing trade organisation for black cabs in London.
They told me of their increasing frustration at the failure of Transport for London (TfL) to deal with their legitimate concerns about Uber and TfL’s role as a regulator of taxi and private hire services.
I cannot be the only worker in London who is concerned about the increasing disruption to London’s transport network by taxi drivers who feel they have no choice but to demonstrate because their concerns are not being taken seriously by TfL.
I’m sure it will not have escaped your notice that two Uber executives in Paris were this week indicted on charges that range from running illegal taxi services to illicit storage of personal data.
And you will also have read reports from America that suggest a senior executive at Uber said that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticised the company.
You are a busy man but you are the person in charge of London. I’m sure with a bit of wisdom applied to this problem, a way forward can be found.
I have asked United Cabbies Group to postpone their planned future actions.
They have considered my proposal that they do so, in return for helping them get their legitimate concerns heard by a senior politician.
Looking at this from all sides, that senior politician is you.
Please take personal charge of this issue and deal with it. If you would like me to broker talks, I’ll do whatever I can to help.