There are nearly 250,000 private hire drivers working in the UK and we need a strong voice now more than ever before. Why? Licensing authorities are becoming harsher in enforcement, fares are going down and the number of licensed vehicles on the road is skyrocketing everywhere. It’s never been tougher to make a decent living. Drivers need to shape the future of this industry now by organising to affect fair regulation and stand up to greedy operators & unfair enforcement.
UPHD has made great strides in recent years. Membership has grown and we have scored some great victories against Uber and others. We’ve also made some great gains at council level. Just last week, UPHD Nottingham convinced Nottingham City Council to overturn it’s ‘one operator’ rule and allow drivers to work for at least two.
We’ve made great progress on being able to influence policy at the national level at the Department for Transport, at local level with local councils, TfL and the Mayor of London. But still there is so much more to do. Too often, private hire drivers are not at the negotiating table or come too late. We intend to continue to change that picture. We have found our voice and now is the time to accelerate our organisational capacity and development.
But, most importantly of all, we NEVER forget that the individual member needs are paramount. In an ever-harsher regulatory environment, protecting you and your badge is our top priority. At UPHD, going forward you can expect an enhanced level of legal assistance for casework whether through an appeals process with the licensing authority or at the Magistrates Court.
Why change now?
As an autonomous branch of the IWGB, we had been funding and carrying out virtually all our own legal casework, finance administration and communications as well as paying our own staff out of the 40% of subscriptions the branch was allowed to retain. Independence then is the logical and essential next step which allows us to focus all our resources and efforts on the needs of drivers so we can take the organisation to scale. The IWGB union is a fine organisation but UPHD is just one of 11 branches and,despite being the biggest branch, we have just 2 votes on the IWGB Executive Committee out of 27. This means that central union leadership and focus is stretched to say the least.
Recently, many from the then largest branch for foster care workers similarly took the initiative to start their own independent organisation, the Independent Foster Carers Alliance.
The time has come now for UPHD to go it alone.
We know that the very best and most effective representative bodies in this industry have a single focus on drivers. Take the New York TaxiWorkers Alliance for example, this is an organisation working for drivers in New York City and has been tremendously successful. The LTDA in London is arguably the most powerful taxi driver organisation in the country with 10,000 members of that association. We need to make this step so that we are positioned properly to represent UK private hire drivers at scale for the long term. In an industry that is heavily regulated and where drivers rely on a public license to make a living, they must have strong representation for the long haul.
We are excited and optimistic about this next new chapter for UPHD. We will take this organisation from strength to strength and give drivers the representation, support and assistance they so richly deserve.