Wakefield Labour suspends councillor for backing taxi drivers’ dispute

Wakefield Dirvers protest. Photo: Wakefield SP
Wakefield Dirvers protest. Photo: Wakefield SP

Mick Griffiths, Wakefield and Pontefract Socialist Party

For months in Wakefield there have been short worker stoppages so taxi and private hire drivers could lobby the council and its licensing sub-committee meetings. But in that time, there has only been limited movement from the council to seek resolution of the key issues.

Drivers are angry about a new ‘suitability and convictions’ policy that gives power to council officers to remove licenses, often on flimsy grounds. Like all workers, drivers’ incomes are being squeezed, and ultimately lost if licences are unfairly removed.

On 5 September, the Wakefield Labour group of councillors met to discuss disciplinary action against Labour councillor Nadiah Sharp for supporting the drivers’ case. Nadiah was particularly singled out for having the audacity to speak in support of the drivers’ lobby of the council.

The disciplinary hearing decision was made by a secret ballot. Nadiah has had the Labour whip removed and is being suspended from Labour for two months. A protest organised by Wakefield Drivers Association outside the hearing expressed their anger and dismay. Many agreed with the view that there is a pressing need to build a new political party to represent the interests of workers in struggle.