WF1 taxi drivers being treated like second-class citizens by Wakefield Council was the cause of a strike and protest outside the Town Hall in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on 2 March. Taxi union leader, Yasar Ahmed, reported to around 60 strikers how even their simple call for dialogue on the matter with the council was being refused.

The protest also heard a number of taxi drivers add detail to the injustices Yasar was trying to get resolved. The protest was to try and get the council to listen, as their livelihood in the taxi trade is being threatened by the council’s severe penalties and treatment.

“If they pass a law, that law should be across the board for all public servants. Why should it just be for taxi drivers? Why should we accept a policy that makes us second-class citizens,” Yasar said.

The council will also not accept a vehicle that is over ten years’ old, the drivers are expected to buy new more often. The policy is out of touch because, as Yasar points out: “They seem to think every taxi driver is a millionaire. They want us to go green but they won’t extend the age limit or give a grant.” Compare that with Bradford Council who grant £4,000 to buy a hybrid.

The GMB trade union had a compromise proposal on the table, which the taxi union leaders said would be acceptable to them, but the council rejected it. Frustration with Labour in local government, at giving no help, gave rise to the call for councillors to resign. Dashed expectations in them and the absorption of lessons from this encounter will increase the support for a new mass workers’ party.

John Vasey, Wakefield Socialist Party