The Unite union says 5,000 taxi drivers will protest in London tomorrow over ‘threats to passenger safety and deregulation’.
The protest will take place in Whitehall at 2.30pm on Wednesday and is likely to cause severe traffic disruption in the area.
Unite says taxi drivers are ‘fed up’ with what it calls the Government’s ‘race to the bottom’ in the industry, which it says is having an adverse impact on passenger safety.
It says a huge increase in private hire cars in the capital since 2008 has flooded the market and had an adverse impact on air quality and the environment .
The union, which represents some of the capital’s 25,000 taxi drivers, says the issues facing taxi drivers in London are mirrored across the UK and is calling for standards for the black taxi and private hire sectors to be ‘raised upwards’.
It claims Transport for London’s recent private hire review was influenced by ‘threats’ from business secretary Sajid Javid.
Unite has criticised Uber’s use of self-employed private hire drivers and points out that the firm is based in Holland for tax purposes. One of its demands is that Uber pays ‘the proper rate of corporation tax in the UK’.
Jim Kelly, chair of the Unite London & Eastern taxi cab section, said: ‘It is clear that the Government, London mayor Boris Johnson and the Tory candidate for mayor Zac Goldsmith have all seriously taken against the black taxi trade in London; a taxi trade which consistently comes out top in terms of value and service compared to other cities around the globe.’
The news comes as the BBC reports that cabbies have rejected an offer from Uber that would let them to use its taxi-hailing app for nothing for a year.
Uber suggested the offer might improve its relationship with London's cabbies, however Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), said: 'With over 15,000 cabbies registered with specific taxi-hailing apps like Gett and Hailo, we would be amazed if any drivers decide to take up Uber's offer.'