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Leicester taxi dispute: Labour's rank hypocrisy
Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party
Taxi drivers in Leicester, organised in transport workers' union the RMT, are furious at the dictatorial attitude of the city's Labour mayor. They have already held a number of protests and 'go slows' that have gridlocked the city centre during rush hours.
At a protest meeting on 4 February 100 taxi drivers and supporters met to discuss their ongoing dispute over a penalty points system being imposed.
The system could potentially result in the drivers losing their livelihoods over relatively minor infringements with no right to appeal.
Elected Labour mayor Peter Soulsby, who has refused to sit down and negotiate, was invited to the meeting but publicly said no.
RMT assistant general secretary Steve Hedley said: "Surely an elected official should listen to their constituents? We understand there is limited parking space in Leicester city centre, but there aren't enough taxi ranks.
"But now the mayor is reducing them further in a fit of pique that is childish. Council officers are now targeting black cabs, discriminating in favour of private hire. That's not acceptable."
RMT branch secretary, Umar Khan, said:
"We did not oppose the actual scheme, but how it would be implemented. But we were not given the opportunity to be heard. We designed positive proposals.
"We understand the health and safety grounds for these rules such as failure to wear a name badge. But they can be forgotten or misplaced. It's not proportionate to automatically give points that could contribute to loss of licence.
"Why not have a place to display a name badge on the central screens of the taxi? Why not discuss the provision of taxi ranks?
"Drivers have invested more than £40,000 in their vehicles. If there aren't enough places to park - where can they go? We were forced to protest."
Steve Hedley summed up: "If you are suffering an injustice you don't suffer in silence, you rise up and fightback. The campaign won't stop here."
In The Socialist 10 February 2016:
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