• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

Pre-booked taxi drivers at Stansted could strike over pay and ‘lack of empathy’

ByElla E. Kidwell

Sep 29, 2022

Drivers ferrying Stansted Airport flyers between Essex, London and their UK destinations could go on strike.

VTC drivers at Trams – the official provider of prepaid car journeys to London Stansted Airport – could take part in a strike vote amid a dispute over wages and financial pressures during the cost of living crisis.

GMB Syndicate the organizers expressed their concerns. StreetCars collects more commissions from drivers than former official supplier 24×7 Stansted.

StreetCars – a Manchester-based company – became the official provider of pre-booked private hire journeys to the airport on April 1, 2022.

Cenk Kasakci, a representative for StreetCars drivers, says workers are raising concerns that fall on deaf ears.

He said: “We are at our wit’s end. Promises are made but usually not kept, management behaviors need to change.”

Mr Kasakci added: “Many drivers have worked from the airport for years and worked under the previous operator but have never seen such behaviour.

“It’s hard enough to deal with the current cost of living crisis knowing that StreetCars is currently offering £1,000 to recruit new hires without considering existing drivers who can’t make ends meet.”

A union spokesperson said that in addition to the £1,000 bonus for new hires, an existing driver has been told he cannot work for the company because his car is a few months older than the four-year limit.

They said the driver was funding a replacement himself, but there was a lack of availability of new cars.

The spokesman alleged the company had shown no “empathy” for the worker’s situation, which is “very concerning” for other drivers whose cars are approaching the four-year age limit.

The GMB spokesperson also said StreetCars take 45.5% of each fare, which they say is ‘staggering’ when drivers are paying between £700 and £900 a month to hire the vehicles on top of fuel and insurance.

“Fares simply aren’t keeping pace with driver spending or inflation,” the spokesperson said.

Steve Garelick, of GMB London, said: “StreetCars senior management have avoided any engagement with GMB, even citing that their lawyers have advised them not to speak to us, despite a previous recognition agreement in place with its predecessor 24×7.

“We note that StreetCars are furious at being challenged on issues, but Stansted drivers are not being listened to.

“It is time for StreetCars to invite GMB to negotiations if they wish to avoid a ballot for industrial action.”