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TSSA announces alliance with London Black Cab groups

3 February 2012

Amidst public safety fears, the TSSA union has entered into an alliance with three major London Black Cab driver associations.

The nature of the historic alliance, which brings workers and black cab drivers together around a series of common concerns, relates to Transport for London’s Taxi and Private Hire Department (LTPH) where TSSA has a number of members.

In November of last year, TfL suddenly announced that it intended to outsource – code for privatise – the department that deals with licensing and inspecting all of London’s tens of thousands of taxi drivers and private hire operators.

The move, which had reduced eight bidders to two preferred contractors by the time TfL told staff, would have seen many staff move to the Midlands and led to job losses, including amongst a small group of key inspectors who were scheduled to remain in London.

The LTPH Department is the key organisation that enforces the London Mayor’s Safer Travel at Night Scheme that seeks to stop sexual assaults by unlicensed private hire taxi drivers. In 2009/10 there were 143 sexual assaults in unlicensed private hire cabs but the success of the scheme so far has been that since its inception, over 6000 unlicensed cab drivers have been arrested, reducing the danger to women.

For TSSA and the black cab groups, the privatisation plans posed a significant safety risk to the users of taxis because of the prospect of job losses leading to cuts in taxi license inspections and staff being put under pressure to cut corners.

Working with the LTDA, LCDC and UNITE Cab Branch, TSSA was able to bring sufficient pressure to bear on TfL that the proposed outsourcing was quickly withdrawn.

The company, however, announced that it would review staffing in the department, thus maintaining the potential for job losses and consequent safety fears.

Recognising that a threat to public safety remained, TSSA and the three black cab driver associations have now signed a statement of principles that seeks to promote and enhance public safety by ensuring that the LTPH Department is properly staffed and the number of key inspectors actually increased.

In signing the alliance statement, Manual Cortes said:
“This is an historic moment that brings together representatives of the workers and the taxi trade in the shared interests of both. Together we are stronger and have already proved what we can do in our mutual self interest.”

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