'Don't make low-pay minicab drivers pay London congestion charge' mayor is urged
PUBLISHED: 18:28 03 April 2019 | UPDATED: 18:31 03 April 2019
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Two east London borough councillors are among 24 from all over London who have signed an open letter to City Hall today urging the mayor to scrap plans for the Congestion Charge for minicab drivers.
It’s the latest stage in a long-running protest campaign by the angry drivers which also includes blocking London Bridge tomorrow.
Tower Hamlets Council member Gabriela Salva Macallan from Bethnal Green’s St Peter’s ward put her name to the letter of support, along with Newham Council member Sasha Das Gupta from Forest Gate.
The letter urges Sadiq Khan to reconsider his decision to bring in the £11.50 daily charge from Monday for minicab drivers, which is now being challenged in the courts by the drivers’ trade union.
The charge could cost up to £3,000 a year, with many drivers earning below the minimum wage.
“These costs will be too much to bear for many,” the Labour councillors’ letter stresses. “Drivers will be forced out of their jobs, or be thrown into poverty and forced to work longer hours to get by.”
The mayor argues that the charge is necessary “to reduce congestion and air pollution” across London.
But the letter insists: “The costs of protecting our environment cannot be borne on the backs of the most vulnerable. Private hire drivers are some of the most exploited and precarious workers in London, taking home ‘poverty’ wages despite working gruelling hours.”
It follows a vote by Labour members on the London Assembly calling for the Congestion Charge on minicabs to be withdrawn. They urge instead a limit on driver licenses, a levy on operators such as Uber and a minimum wage enforcement.
TfL’s own impact assessment shows congestion would only be reduced by one per cent, with a negative impact on air pollution, the Independent Workers union claims. Licensed ‘black cab’ drivers, meanwhile, continue to be exempt from the charge.
The union has now applied for a Judicial Review of the mayor’s decision and is continuing its ongoing protests. Drivers plan to park their minicabs on London Bridge tomorrow to block it to traffic, while lobbying City Hall.