Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1037/28969

From The Socialist newspaper, 10 April 2019

Low pay, long hours, isolation - a taxi driver speaks out

  (Click to enlarge)

A Bristol taxi driver

I'm writing this because I'm angry. We are constantly told that things are pretty good, or not so bad at least. Everyone from Theresa May and right-wing Labour representatives to the media keep on telling us this.

Anyway, the reality of my life is very different. I don't believe I'm special. I believe that millions of people are in the same boat as me, one way or another.

For the last 28 years, I've worked as a taxi driver. Back when I started it was a bit rough. You'd have to have a "punch up" now and then, because a taxi driver was a target for aggro and muggers.

I have been stabbed twice and had a colleague who was killed. Even so, you could earn a decent living, though it was never true that we were having it "bang off."

Now I'm self-employed, but not part of the middle class. There used to be a vague idea that if you bought your own car you were some kind of step up.

However, especially these days, you soon realise you have to pay for everything yourself - insurance, public liability, service and repairs, and so on.

Then before you've even paid it off, the car's likely to be nearing the end of its life, because of all the mileage we do.

We are workers, but with no employment rights - and we pay our company for the right to work!

Anyway, over the last 20 years, our situation has dramatically worsened. We are in a race to the bottom.

It seems like everybody and their dog is driving taxis these days, and most of the small companies have been swallowed up or shut down. Now it's all corporate work, and us drivers are expendable. If you can't earn your living, tough.

The bosses have used technology to work against us. Uber, Ola and other inventions make our lives harder, and increasingly we feel like an atomised workforce.

Most of us work off an app and just sit in the car waiting for a job in the gig economy. There's no "hello, hello" on the radio any longer. No human voice directing us to jobs.

If you've ridden in an Uber cab, think how the driver can make any money out of the fare - when it's so cheap, and Uber takes 28%. My expenses are 2,000 a month, and that's not unusual.

Our company does a majority of account or contract work rather than cash rides these days. The trouble is, the cut they pay us drivers is the same as 25 years ago!

They keep a bigger and bigger share of what you're earning. So what can I do? Just work longer and longer hours.

At one time, the Trade Union Congress had a campaign for the 35-hour week. Well, today the figures show that, on average, an Uber driver has to work 35 hours a week just to break even, and this is getting worse by the day.

That's 35 hours just to cover your expenses. Then to make any money you just keep racking up the hours. I've known two drivers who fell asleep at the wheel and drove off the motorway.

So now all I do is work, every day, as many hours as I can, to support myself and my partner who isn't able to work.

Yet still I'm falling further and further in debt. If I get ill, I honestly don't know what will become of us.

This is the precarious reality for millions. This is my reality. So we desperately need a proper union, and more than that, a real Labour Party that will stand up and fight to change society - all the way.

Don't let them tell us there's 'no money' for anything positive. I heard on the cab radio that one bloke who was a big Tory Brexiteer has buggered off to reside in Monaco to avoid a seven-figure tax bill, and don't tell me he wasn't fiddling his tax beforehand like all the rich and powerful do.

There's plenty of wealth, it's just that we can't get our hands on it for useful purposes, and to end poverty wages and conditions.

I'm sure that in a socialist society most taxi drivers could do so much more with our lives. Let's get rid of capitalism.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 10 April 2019:


What we think

Corbyn must demand general election, defend workers' interests and fight for a socialist Brexit


Climate change

Organise against climate change, austerity and capitalism

Only socialism can stop capitalism's plastic problem


International socialist news and analysis

Algeria: Bouteflika is finished but the Algerian revolution is not!

China: police state in Xinjiang under global spotlight


Local elections

Local government in crisis: councillors can fight cuts!


Socialist Party news and analysis

Boot out the Tories - end austerity

Stop Tory NHS destruction

Gender pay gap widening

Them & us


Workplace news and analysis

PCS: vote Yes for action, back socialists in the elections!

NEU conference: organise for the key battles to come

Swindon workers discuss action to save Honda jobs

Southampton Hospital security workers strike

Support the Glasgow Airport pay and pensions strike

London Overground cleaners strike for better pay


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Leicester Socialist Party letter for no-cuts budget

Walthamstow: end the school funding crisis

Reject the rotten NUS 'reforms'

Leicester NHS Trust and the brutal reality of cuts

Social cleansing continues in Southwark

Newcastle anti-fascist demo

South Yorkshire Freedom Riders - still battling on

Gateshead FC crisis: save our Heed!

Health Campaigns Together AGM success


Opinion

Low pay, long hours, isolation - a taxi driver speaks out

'Traitors': Cold War cloak and daggers as capitalist powers spy on allies


 

Home   |   The Socialist 10 April 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Drivers:

triangleUnions must fight to make bus drivers and passengers safe

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleThe NSSN in Brighton lobbying the TUC, 8.9.19. A report will be posted soon. photo by Mary Finch

triangleLondon Arriva bus drivers vote for strike action over bullying and workload

triangleLancashire Stagecoach drivers continue their fight

Pay:

triangleMinimum wage debate: how can we end the scandal of low pay?

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleHackney SEND transport workers achieve victory

triangleRMT: Jared Wood - Fighting cuts, defending jobs, pay and conditions

Low pay:

triangleSocialism: The alternative to capitalist austerity, low pay and crisis

triangleEnd low pay - support Salford Royal security workers' action

triangleStudents and workers unite against fees, low pay climate change

Uber:

triangleUber drivers strike against unfair 'deactivation' and low pay

triangleFirst coordinated catering and courier strike whets workers' appetite for action

35-hour week:

triangleLabour and the fight for a shorter working week

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

16/10/19

Trotskyism

Major new book out in November: In Defence of Trotskyism

16/10/19

David Cameron

The Cameron Tory legacy

16/10/19

Tony Mulhearn

Book: The Making of a Liverpool Militant by Tony Mulhearn

9/10/19

Review

Film review: Joker - Sympathising with a monster created by today's incendiary conditions

9/10/19

Sexual harassment

Book review: She Said - Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement

2/10/19

Letters

The Socialist inbox

2/10/19

Socialist Party

Active and strong member of Socialist Party reaches 80

25/9/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

18/9/19

Letters

The Socialist inbox

18/9/19

Peterloo

Peterloo - fighting for democracy and a better life

11/9/19

Democracy

Capitalist 'democracy' v socialist democracy

4/9/19

Socialism

At 96 I'm more convinced of socialism than ever

4/9/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

28/8/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

28/8/19

Crime

Knife and gun crime a product of poverty and austerity

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999