Branch Committee member Tony Cook writes what he believes to be the most important action any driver can take.
“Can the RMT get me a lawyer if I get nicked at 2am?” Is one of the most frequently asked questions I hear from taxi drivers.
I’m always surprised that my fellow cabbies worry more about legal protection that they’re never likely to need, rather than securing the very thing they become a London cab driver for; the right to ply for hire. I’m more likely to use a cab rank at 2am than I am a solicitor!
Many other trade organisations offer cab drivers free vouchers if you put a diary on a dashboard or maybe even a cheap holiday. Some just focus on side issues. The RMT focus on fighting to protect our working practices.
The RMT are a industrial trade union. Yes, we offer benefits to members, including legal protection and sickness benefits, but that’s not the reason to join.
By joining the RMT union you become part of a collective of transport workers who stand in solidarity with each other. You join a trade union which uses the power of collective bargaining to secure the best deal possible for the workers. You join a trade union which will never side with or appease the bosses, or in the cab trades case, it’s regulator, Transport for London.
Look at the success the RMT have had in fighting for workers on the rail and underground and then you’ll see why TFL have tried to stop us gaining a foothold in the cab trade.
The cab trade has been failed in recent years by those ‘elected’ to represent it. They have allowed TFL to exclude the RMT from the table and now we have Private Hire plying for hire through an app.
Branch Secretary, Lewis Norton, summed it up perfectly for me by saying that the trade should stop talking about “trade unity” and get behind “trade unionism”.
By standing as one and fighting the deregulation of our industry with a powerful union behind it we might just stand a chance.
Unity is strength.