20 June 2016
RMT Press Office:
RMT Taxi Drivers to protest at Luton Town Hall Weds 22nd June over attacks on the trade.
RMT TAXI DRIVERS will be protesting outside Luton Town Hall at 1.30pm on Wednesday 22nd June over unprecedented attacks on their trade
The slashing of the grant from central government to local authorities has resulted in councils looking for new income sources – including extracting bigger and bigger fees from hard-pressed taxi drivers.
Luton Borough Council is the majority shareholder in Luton Airport. The Council owns the land on which the airport sits.
Luton Airport used to have a taxi rank at which the town’s taxis could pick up airplane passengers. In 2012 Luton Council removed this rank. The airport planned to put taxi, minicab and limo services out to tender.
The removal of the rank was designed to make the contract more valuable. In other words the winning bidder would have the exclusive right to provide taxi services at the airport.
Giant minicab firm Addision Lee - owned by international financiers The Carlyle Group - swooped in. They offered Luton Airport £2 million for exclusive access to passengers.
The airport didn’t care how much passengers’ taxi fares went up, provided the airport got a big chunk of the fees. For example in relation to limo fares, the airport wanted a 50% cut.
Local drivers could not compete with the big money that Addison Lee can throw around and the company, despite having no existing presence in the town, won the contract.
To add insult to injury, Addison Lee offers to recruit the taxi drivers that it is putting out of business. However, to pay for the £2 million fee that it has promised the airport, it wants a minimum 30% cut of drivers’ earnings.
Further, Addison Lee wants drivers to lease new vehicles from it. This would take Addison Lee’s cut from drivers to over 50%.
Accordingly RMT taxi drivers are protesting the contract. Drivers will congregate outside Luton town hall on Wednesday 22 June at 1:30pm.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“RMT demands that the Luton Airport tender be re-run to give proper weight to the contribution from local drivers. RMT also demands that the taxi rank at the airport be re-instated. If this does not occur, local drivers face being ruined.
“Further, RMT demands that all local authorities stop trying to fleece local taxis. Allowing multi-nationals to gorge themselves on fees earned by providing local services, will simply lead to those services being overpriced and revenue being exported out of the area.”