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Stockport cab drivers fight deregulation
While over 100 journalists from local newspapers under threat gathered inside Manchester town hall on a Friday night to discuss the way forward, one in every three of Stockport's black cab drivers circled the building in a show of support. Coincidentally, several hundred 'Critical Mass' environmentalists cycled around the same area, to the bemusement of passers-by!
Hugh Caffrey, Manchester
Stockport Express journalists have supported black cab drivers in the past. Now those journalists are under attack from their employers, on 27 March the cabbies were returning the favour. At the same time, they highlighted how Stockport council threatens their livelihoods with deregulation.
The number of black cabs is fixed by councils, which issue the licenses and a waiting list operates. Stockport council wants to increase the number from 120 to 180 but with still only two taxi ranks.
This will mean overcrowding of the ranks, and a cut in income for all black cab drivers. For the many drivers who are deep in debt from buying and fitting their £30,000+ vehicles, this will be a catastrophic blow. Dave Hulbert, spokesperson for the protesting drivers, told me:
"Tonight we're here in support of the Express, their workers and reporters. In terms of the issue about the council removing the limit on the number of black cabs on the road, the limit is there to make sure everyone has a fair crack of the whip, that there's enough work for everyone.
"There's actually a fare formula, to work out what level of fares are charged, which is linked to the number of vehicles on the road. So if they doubled the number of vehicles, by definition they have to double the fares. So how's that supposed to be supporting the public in any way?"
The council has apparently spent tens of thousands of pounds on three failed court cases against the cab drivers. Why is the council so determined to push this policy through? Why does it want to hammer down the income of black cab drivers? If Stockport council now believes in job creation, as it claims, why is it putting cab drivers out of work? Unemployment is high in Stockport already, and will rise further through 2009.
Now the council has to consult again on this ludicrous policy. They cannot be trusted though. It's not long since they tried to force all black cab drivers to re-paint their cabs green, with the council logo, at a cost to each driver of over £2,000! That crazy scheme failed, and so can this with a sufficient show of strength against it.
In The Socialist 8 April 2009:
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news
Socialist Party workplace news