Comments made this week by Boris Johnson are endemic within the political class, none more than in the Conservative party.
At the Mayors monthly question session by the Greater London Authority and when asked by Liberal Democrat member Caroline Pidgeon about the lack of infrastructure for ZEC Taxis, Boris gave response despite the ‘Luddites’ that were in attendance at City Hall.
The results that followed were exactly what the Mayor and the Deputy Chairman, Tory GLA member Tony Arbour, bargained for.
If the licensed Taxi trade is to out maneuver the Government, Mayor and TFL then we must not fall into clumsy traps like this in the future.
The trade union movement under Margaret Thatcher was subject to infiltration by Police officers, who’s main purpose was to agitate pickets to justify a heavy handed Police response.
The arena may have changed but the tactics remain the same.
If we are to learn from history then we must take note of past disputes and put it in context of today. During the summer Business Secretary Sajid Javid is to of said that ”the Government would not bow to pressure from British taxi drivers” and that he will take them ”head on”. He continued to say that the government will “support innovation and disruptive tech because it will lead to higher productivity”.
For the past three decades the UK economy has been the subject of Neo-liberal policies that portrays itself to be in the interest of the public. The language used by both Mr Johnson & Mr Javid is an example of this as branding people ‘luddites’ and claiming ”higher productivity” seemingly justifies the practices of industrial deregulation and aims directly to discredit legitimate concerns the populace have against unfettered capitalism.
If one is to disagree with the rhetoric then they are to be perceived as backward thinking dangers to the economy!
So the weapons have changed but the strategy remains. We too must do the same.
Moving Forward: A change of tact
The RMT LTDB has for over two years been campaigning for legislative change that would lead to improving our working practices and setting a differential between both Taxis & PHV. Defining Plying for hire.
We have sort cross trade support and have managed to achieve progressive dialogue with the majority of groups. However, this is by no way a finished project and we must not lose sight of what we all want for our industry. To revert to stereotype and indulge in the sort of activity we witnessed on Wednesday’s Mayor Question Time would only further the cause of those wishing to see our demise and brandish us as ‘Luddites’.
I do not wish to see my industry go the way of the Dockers, Miners and Printers and to his satisfaction give Sajid Javid his ‘Orgreave’.
So let us instead prove that it is in fact the antiquated ruling class establishment that fear change and we are the champions of progression.
Educate. Agitate. Organise.
Lewis Norton is Branch Secretary of RMT London Taxi Drivers