Taxi drivers across Northern Ireland are organising in Unite the union to defend their livelihoods
Unite Regional Community Coordinator, Albert Hewitt, called on the owners of taxi companies operating across Northern Ireland to suspend charges and help their drivers stay on the road.
“Taxi drivers in Unite the union are getting organising to protect themselves in this time of crisis. The value of fares has collapsed dramatically and most drivers, who are not directly employed, are denied even the meagre protections afforded to directly-contracted employees.
“These workers pay a steep charge to depots to operate as taxi drivers – an amount as high as one hundred and forty pounds a week. Drivers who hire their vehicles from operators pay an additional £100 a week for it and that’s before the cost of fuel and insurance. The Coronavirus crisis has meant a collapse in fares leaving drivers coming home with virtually nothing after a hard week’s work.
“Taxi drivers are struggling to pay household bills and make enough for their families. Unite is backing fully our members’ call for a three-month holiday on depot-rents to keep them on the road.
“Alongside those bus and train services, taxis will play a vital role in the days and weeks ahead. Taxi drivers offer a life-line to elderly and vulnerable people living alone but their role in the coming weeks when these individuals are social distancing themselves will be particularly important. As well as support for drivers, Stormont must step up with financial support to struggling taxi operators to safeguard the sustainability of this vital industry”, Mr Hewitt said.