The taxi trade faces some tough battles ahead, but united drivers and stakeholders can become a formidable force. This is what UTAG hopes to achieve for the future of the trade, here director’s Trevor and Angela explain where we stand.
Whilst the World’s leading investments banks are eagerly awaiting a massive pay-day from pricing the Initial Public Offering (“IPO”) of Uber Technologies, taxi drivers globally continue to grapple with how they shall meet essential financial obligations, such as mortgages and taxi rent.
Regrettably, this is a tale of two cities that demonstrates the inequality of the world that we find ourselves working in since Transport for London made that fatal decision to grant Uber London Limited a Private Hire Operators license back in 2012. The London Taxi trade is living in a challenging era, where technology companies are the new slave masters and the working classes have become slaves to the gig economy, an economy where Venture Capitalists and Sovereign Wealth Funds vie with each other to provide unlimited resources to the latest growth story, even though as we found out in Uber’s S-1 filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) that they have ‘no route to profitability’ and that they’ve lost $10 billion in the last three years alone.
Fair competition, we think not. Whilst we can write all day (and night) about the deliberate harm that Uber has inflicted on the taxi trade in London, we are aware that every taxi driver already has their own experience of the damage caused, damage Uber couldn’t have achieved if they hadn’t been facilitated by Transport for London (“TfL”) and it is TfL where we wish to focus the main part of our update and inform you where United Trade Action Group (“UTAG”) are currently at with the next stage of litigation. UTAG is in the process of drafting a Pre-Action Letter to TfL setting out the trade’s complaints.
This is an important letter, as it is the precursor to issuing a claim against them. The letter should be issued to TfL by the Summer and shortly thereafter, we will issue the claim. For reasons that should be obvious, we cannot disclose UTAG’s strategy in open communication, but what we can say is that we are committed to issuing proceedings as quickly as possible.
However, to some extent timing is dependent on additional financial support. As a corporate entity, UTAG has a responsibility to be able to meet financial obligations as they fall due (which could include adverse costs (the other sides costs)) and for those that aren’t aware, legal actions are incredibly expensive and require skilful management. This is new ground for the trade, we have one shot and we must ensure that we are diligent with our approach, although we appreciate that we are all very eager to get on with the action, we must strike a balance. In relation to our fundraising, we are now heading into our seventh month. We have a significant number of contributors and those contributions are adding up to a significant amount, however, we need to raise more funds to give us the best chance of seeing a court action through to its conclusion.
Support from our original Stakeholders continues to be incredible and more Stakeholders have been joining, as they have started to understand what the UTAG movement stands for. Driver support has been steady, and our Advocacy Group has been doing sterling work signing up the rank and file drivers. However, collectively we need to encourage more drivers to join as we are a much larger collective group (23,000) then the Stakeholders and it would be churlish to put our futures in the pockets of others; we need to dig deep and you can play a further part by spreading the word on UTAG. The vast majority of funds raised from drivers thus far are on hand, as they are sitting safely in our bank account. The Stakeholders have paid all UTAG’s direct costs of the Judicial Review (“JR”) as well as a percentage of the adverse costs. Stakeholders funds are still coming in and we are hopeful that 100% of JR costs will be paid by them, which is a testament to the commitment they have shown and are showing.
We have received questions relating to marketing spend and again, we can confirm that Stakeholders have paid for all the marketing collateral and have provided their own taxis free of charge to display UTAG Supersides, meaning that UTAG gets the maximum exposure for the least amount of cost. Stakeholders are stepping up; drivers must follow their lead. We are often asked the names of Stakeholders that have supported UTAG and we shall reveal who they are in our forthcoming publication ‘The Gold Standard’, again financed by incredibly supportive stakeholders.
This shall be a printed publication providing further updates.
There shall be no ‘paid for’ adverts in the publication and those Stakeholders who have contributed shall be given ‘free space’ as a token of our appreciation.
Stakeholders will receive free space based on the size of their donations, as it would be unethical if UTAG disclosed financial contributions without consent.
If you do not see your garage, credit card supplier, meter supplier, media company or insurance company etc in the publication then that is because they haven’t made a financial contribution. We are disclosing in this manner as a compromise, as many drivers wish to “support those that support us” but at the same time, we do not wish to be involved in any communication that is asymmetric with our aspirations of uniting the trade.
Thank you for reading and for your continued support.
Angela Clarkson & Trevor Merralls
United Trade Action Group
To contribute please click on the UTAG header or visit twitter @UTAG17 or call 0207 100 5206