Council’s decision to make minicab drivers responsible for flagging vehicles criticized by ADCU
Image credit: ADCU
The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) has denounced Milton Keynes Council’s decision to transfer responsibility for private hire vehicles to display signage from operators to the drivers themselves.
An ADCU spokesman said the move comes after the Council ‘admitted in its report that licensed private hire operators have often failed to provide the signage required to identify the operator under current rules’ .
They added: “The council has failed miserably to enforce the law against licensed operators and rather than do so they have decided to abandon the existing rules altogether and shift the onus to minicab drivers. Now drivers of minicab will have to pay for a supply of the new Milton Keynes council branded signs and will be prosecuted if they are not displayed.”
The ADCU believes the new signage policy, which purports to protect the traveling public, will have the exact opposite effect.
They say this is because signage such as that proposed by the council has proved confusing to passengers who are likely to think the vehicle is a hackney carriage which can be hailed or reserved immediately on the street while private hire vehicles must be booked in advance otherwise travel is uninsured and illegal.
As a result, private drivers might be more likely to be approached by passengers demanding instant travel or reservations. Late at night, this can lead to danger for the driver who has to deny travel to anyone who tries to make an instant booking in this way.
The ADCU pointed out that the new signs undermine the clear two-tier distinction between the taxi and private hire markets which operate under different laws and regulations. Taxis can be hailed for instant hire while private hire vehicles must be pre-booked in advance. Signage could blur the lines between the two in the eyes of the consumer.
A spokesperson continued: “It is for these reasons that such signage is strictly prohibited by Transport for London, the country’s highest licensing authority.
“The Milton Keynes Council Licensing Committee has come to the complete opposite conclusion to Transport for London and claims to know more than the professional driver community in Milton Keynes and one of the largest private hire vehicle licensing authorities in the world.”
The ADCU believes the new rules also weaken potential workers’ rights claims by removing the requirement to display operator employer signage instead of council signage.
The requirement to display signage, markings and uniforms is often a key criterion in determining an employment relationship. The ADCU says the council’s ‘refusal to enforce existing rules’ on signage while shifting the cost and burden onto workers is fundamentally unfair and a betrayal, saying the council is ‘bending over backwards to serve the interests offshore profiteers like Uber and Bolt, while punishing taxpayers trying to make a living working in the industry in the wake of a pandemic.”
Yaseen Aslam, chairman of the App Drivers & Couriers Union and lead claimant in Aslam v Uber, said: “The Milton Keynes Council Licensing Committee has made a serious mistake with this decision which puts passengers and drivers at risk. while letting the big cat bosses off the hook. .
“Passengers are more likely to approach private hire vehicles without proper reservations as a result of this intervention when the reverse should be the goal. Once again, the council has transferred more risk and costs from offshore operators and imposed the charge on local drivers, who often earn less than the national minimum wage.
“Meanwhile, the council has licensed operators who insist they are not party to a travel contract which they say exists only between driver and passenger. This arrangement is a breach flagrant of the laws that the council has a duty to enforce and represents an unacceptable I sincerely hope that the council will rule on the licensing committee when this matter is brought before them in due course.