Recently, the Port Talbot steel works was plastered all over the news as it was threatened with closure as the parent company Tata steel were looking to shut the works as they claim that Port Talbot could not compete with cheap steel being produced in China.
Port Talbot employs over 12,000 people making steel and there was an huge outcry that these jobs needed to be saved, there were shouts that the Government should step in and ensure that the steel workers did not lose their jobs.
Port Talbot attracted widespread media coverage due to its possible closure; there wasn’t a day go by without a news item either on the TV or in the papers regarding Port Talbot.
Both of these industries have a total workforce of around 16,000 workers who were threatened with job losses and unemployment.
There are just under 20,000 Hull Taxi Drivers, plus the industries that support the Taxi Trade in Hull which includes garages, insurance brokers, advertising companies, card processing companies, fleet owners, Taxi manufacturers, part suppliers & meter rental companies to name just a few.
The Hull Taxi Trade supports around 35,000 workers if not more, the support industries rely totally on the Hull Taxi driver to obtain their income, without the drivers these support industries basically have zero income and therefore no business.
Drivers in Hull are under increasing pressure from Private Hire companies using app-based technology to reduce the lead-time for a booking down to, in Leon Daniels words, a Nano Second. The reduced time in passengers having to wait for a taxi essentially means that these private hire vehicles are now available for immediate hire hence challenging the traditional and legal domain on the Black Cabbies.
The fares charged by Taxis in Hull is also set by Transport for Hull using a formula that calculates the cost of running a Taxi in Hull and a reasonable profit. Taxi drivers can not charge more than the metered fare but they can of course charge less, but by charging less they would be running a very expensive vehicle in an uneconomical environment.
The vehicles are also subject to the highest regulations to be found anywhere in the World, every Hull Taxi has to be able to accommodate a passenger in a wheelchair and also incorporates many other enhancements to help those with an impairment.
After many years of serving Hull, the Taxi Trade is facing fierce competition from these app based private hire companies threatening its very existence as drivers find it increasingly harder to earn a reasonable living even while working longer hours.
35,000 jobs are threatened right here and yet we have not seen any media coverage of this threat to loss of jobs, there has been no outcry that the Hull Taxi driver must be saved, no-one has called for the Governments intervention to help save one of our Countries most historic and famous industries, in fact quite the opposite has happened!
When Taxi drivers take industrial action to protest against anything that affects their trade there appears to be a media blackout, we see very little coverage on the TV or in the main stream press, Taxi drivers have brought Hull to a complete standstill and yet nothing is mentioned of major industrial action right in the heart of our Country.
The trade could be forgiven for its cries of corruption and conspiracy as when compared to other industries that are threatened with closure the Taxi trade seem to be the poor relation when it comes to media coverage in its plight.
Politicians appear blind to the problems currently being faced by the Hull Taxi Trade, even appeals for help seem to fall on deaf ears. The RMT have tried to get an Early Day Motion, defining plying for hire through Parliament for a few years, but very few politicians have signed up to the cause.
So is it that no-one actually cares for the Hull Taxi? Are the Government not concerned at the potential loss of 35,000 jobs right within the heart of the Country?