We are slowly slowly coming towards a bit of a stand off here.
For most of my taxi driving colleagues this whole anger against the council is against a massive escalation in costs. For those who see an opportunity, they’re using that drivers anger and telling them they must protest against the council – because they know if the drivers don’t then if they’re base owners then they potentially face going out of business.
For all those people posting on social media and blogs in favour of CCTV, drivers do not want to pay for it. The majority of drivers do not believe they should nor do they believe that they make enough money to pay for it either. This might seem difficult to your average person with an opinion on the Internet to understand but purely from an economical point of view, CCTV in taxis in Rotherham makes no financial sense. It’s an unnecessary cost. Having it brings ‘other’ benefits like the safety of both the driver and passengers buy purely from a financial side, if you can’t afford it then why have one put in?
The majority of people who post on social media and blogs want this CCTV whether or not they even use taxis. The families of those CSE victims have asked for CCTV (and quite rightly so). The vast majority of drivers are saying to the council ‘you want us to have CCTV, you pay for it’. And I can honestly say that every customer i’ve spoken to who’s got in my taxi has either said they don’t want to be on CCTV or if it has to be there then they don’t see why the council aren’t paying for it.
So this is probably what’s going to happen. Some drivers will grudgingly accept CCTV. Myself, I’d rather focus on its benefits then dwell too long on the costs or negatives.
Some won’t and they will pack up and give up the industry. Others will get together and launch legal action against the council. Because they feel enough is enough. It’s getting too expensive to be able to drive a taxi here. Certainly, the days of the part time taxi driver will be over. The only way to make it pay will be to work full time (any regulations about monitoring of hours will be fought aswell – we’re self employed, the council has no right to tell anyone self employed when they can and can’t work).
One of the articles on the Sheffield Star website said the council were in ’embryonic’ discussions with other local councils about them taking on the new legislation. Which at the moment is a huge mistake.
It’s not launching here with any great fanfare so why attempt it anywhere else until it has been shown it can work here first? There are already rumours about taxi drivers going on strike in Barnsley and all that’s triggered that is the ’embryonic discussions’. Certainly, the more drivers who get annoyed and join any legal action the worse these councils will look if they lose it.
And then the future. Imagine the council do win. Everything is ratified. What will happen then is more drivers will pack up and leave the industry. They just won’t pay.
Some drivers don’t even want base owners to put the fares up to cover CCTV costs because they think they’ll also put the radio rent up. And this is where it starts to make a bit more sense.
Over 5 years the CCTV works out potentially at another £7 a week. For some taxi drivers that’s still too much. And before you start clicking those fingers and getting ready to respond with any vitriol, just remember this.
How many of you have changed your credit card or energy supplier or mobile phone contract to get a better deal? I’ve just changed my energy supplier from E-on to EDF and i’m going to save £30 a month. Nobody out there would do anything other than praise me for being sensible. And why should taxi drivers be any different. Why should the drivers pay out more than they need to?
And then it comes down to the bottom line. This isn’t even really about the costs. It’s about drivers being told what to do. The RPHDA aren’t thinking about the customers here who pay our wages. Most taxi drivers don’t. Most see the customer as an irrelevance, interrupting their time.
For some taxi drivers, the customer service is none existent. The cars are filthy. The want the customer to conform to the way THEY want to drive them – as opposed to providing a customer focused service.
The only people that make the best of this situation is the one who makes the best of it and put the customer first. Not themselves.
Those that can’t will get out of the industry. There might not be many drivers left this time next year.
One way or the other this isn’t going to end pretty.
Secret Taxi Driver