‘We are taken for granted’: Leeds taxi drivers’ strike as anger at City Council escalates

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Drivers are protesting Leeds City Council’s fitness and convictions policy, which has been in place since February 2020.

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The Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organization (LPHDO) is calling for a strike, following a protest at Leeds Civic Hall earlier this week.

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LPHDO is calling for a strike, following a protest at Leeds Civic Hall earlier this week. Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS AFP via Getty Images.

The anger comes as taxi drivers feel unfairly aggrieved by new rulings that could see them lose their license for minor offences.

Speaking to YEP LPHDO Vice President Zahir Mahmood expressed his feeling that taxi drivers are taken for granted.

“We are taken for granted, but the problem in Leeds is that the council and the regulator can get away with anything while the taxi driver can’t get away with even a minor thing.

“If I have an argument on the road with someone and they file a complaint against me, I am immediately suspended without any follow-up.”

For Zahir, this puts taxi drivers in an impossible situation as they have to put up with many drunk customers.

“We are dealing with drunks and people who have taken drugs in our car and we are on the front line.” he explained “Some people can get really, really mean, but if we say one thing at the time, we’re held to account. Are we just supposed to let a customer do whatever they want?”

Discussions have been ongoing between the two parties for three years, with the board hoping the LPHDO will reconsider its decision.

In a statement provided to YEP, councilor Debra Coupar said:

“We were made aware of the proposed strike on Monday by the Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organization (LPHDO). Our priority is to minimize the impact of this proposed action as much as possible, particularly on vulnerable adults and children, and to ensure that all those who may be affected are aware of the situation and any potential disruptions, identifying solutions where possible.

“We call on the Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organization to reconsider its intended action and continue its dialogue with us on the proposed fitness policy motoring minor conviction accumulation test in order to achieve a successful outcome. for all parties.”

But for Zahir, he feels the council failed to listen to their concerns and promised action will continue until the issue is resolved.

“It will continue until they sit down and actually listen to us.” he said, “We’ve had a dialogue and we’re starting to sound like a broken record now. Three years later and unfortunately nothing has been done. That advice let us down.”

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