Private hire drivers in MK have apologised to the public for any disruption following their second round of strike action this week - and they have urged people to support them by using public transport during the strikes.
The drivers have revealed they are in a dispute with their bosses Skyline, Speedline, Bounds and other local taxi operators for alleged “unethical practices and violations of workers’ rights”.
The dispute is supported by MK Private Hire Independent Association.
They claim some taxi companies have increased their rent to drivers by more than 100 per cent over the past 19 years. The average rent drivers pay is now £100 a week. They also need to pay a hefty sum for their own radio equipment, saving their bosses thousands of pounds, says the association.
The drivers are asking for an increase in the minimum fare, which is currently £3.
A spokesman for association said: “The maintenance costs, fuels costs, repair costs, insurances costs, council’s badge and plating costs, together with living costs, have soared higher and higher since 200, and radio rents went up by 50% percent. But the drivers’s taxi fare is still the same minimum fare of £3.00.”
He added: “These operators are very greedy. When we had a strike for minimum fare increase last Monday, on November 5, then these greedy operators proposed a fare increase of £1.00 in the current flat rate minimum fare, but also want to increase the rent of the PDA (radio) to £145.00 a week which basically means the increased fare we will be collecting from customers and paying the money to these greedy operators as rents.
“Drivers feel it is unfair that the taxi bosses can take home millions of pounds each year, yet the drivers often struggle to make ends meet and often stretched to work long shifts to cover costs and make less than minimum wage.
“After years of seeing declining incomes the drivers have been left with no choice but to take action. However, drivers aim to keep disruption to a minimum and hope to resume full service soon.”
The drivers say they are also facing “daily” attacks from the public and are frequently have their car windows smashed - which they must pay to repair.
They are also proposing to undertake customer service training voluntarily from their own expenses to increase the level of service in the future and hope to resume full service soon..
“The industry has really struggled in 2018 and the current situation can not continue as driver morale is low and is seriously impacting service levels,” said the spokesman.
He said drivers are proposing to undertake customer service training voluntarily from their own expenses to increase the level of service in the future.
The spokesman added: “Please make it clear to your readers that strike action will not disrupt any local school contracts supplied by the local council and a new improved service will resume soon.
“Until then we ask residents to use public transport services.”