For the past six months the media has been running hot with stories of people on temporary visas and new migrants with poor English being exploited by unscrupulous employers like 7-eleven, Domino Pizza and United Petroleum to name but three of hundreds. These poor defenceless people are being overworked and underpaid. Only in one recent television commentary did I hear taxi divers being mentioned in this context. In the US, one company that crops up regularly when the news is about worker exploitation is Uber. In Australia there is already an Australian Uber Drivers Association that is getting a bit of attention. For example at a recent NSW Parliamentary Inquiry hearing into the workplace arrangements in the point-to-point passenger transport sector, its representatives had an opportunity to speak. So did the NSW Taxi Council, Uber, the TWU and the Australian Taxi Drivers Association. The hearing was scheduled for 28 and 29 July but managed to wrap up after the first day. Having had the pleasure of reading the most relevant submissions to the inquiry and listening to some of the speakers at the hearing it has become clear to me that this inquiry is not about improving the conditions for taxi, or for that matter, ride-share drivers. Full story here.
Since Professor Allan Fels was head of the ACCC I have had my fair share of run-ins with him about the taxi industry, although never face-to-face even when we appeared on the same news segment. During his stint as Chairman of the Victorian Taxi Inquiry in 2011 he even went on ABC Radio attacking my OZ Cabbie jokes page for being racist, sexist and basically disgusting. My readers thought otherwise, telling me it was the section of the magazine (when it was still in print) they enjoyed the most, which was not a great compliment as it was the only section not written by us, Funny how I have never warmed to that man. Might have something to do with the way he stuffed up the Victorian taxi industry and left that state’s plate owners with a nearly worthless piece of metal and its drivers with the right to four weeks holiday – unpaid. Combined with Fels’ antics and the arrival of UberX, every part of the taxi industry has taken a beating, but in terms of hard cold cash, none more so than plate owners. Over the past two years I have often asked why on earth plate owners couldn’t band together and take class action against their government for deliberately destroying the value of their plates and failing to stop Uber from operating an illegal taxi service. They never did – not until now. It now appears that a large group of Victorian plate owners are pooling their resourses to take on the Andrews Government. More here.
There are also rumbles in Queensland. The government evidently received the report on how to deal with ridesharing on Sunday 31 July but made it clear it would be some time before it would make it public. Despite increased fines for UberX drivers, they continue to operate, decimating the income of taxi drivers while simultaneously destroying the value of taxi plates. A legal action is brewing. John Rahilly, a Brisbane taxi owner, activist and prolific letter writer vents his anger, frustration and disappointment with the Premier and her Transport minister. Read letter.
Remember anything about ‘ihail’? That was the Uber-killing app the taxi industry mafia had some problems getting accredited by the ACCC. Well, they finally got approval in March and soon after announced they would be launching the app in June. Last time I checked their website, it asked excited passengers to register their interest for when it becomes available in August.
Having studied all the material and information about ihail I could get my hands on, I have come to the conclusion that neither the app nor the people behind it are up to scratch. Not that I ever thought any different about those people! They are the same old mob, who were major shareholders in Cabcharge when it was fully owned by taxi networks. The more I have learned the more I realise it is nothing more than an Uber clone, technically, commercially, ethically and morally. Here is the full story to date
I was planning to have this issue online last week but suddenly things started to happen everywhere with inquiries, hearings, proposed lawsuits against governments and suddenly when next I looked at my calendar it said 1 August. Well, this is still the July issue, it was more than ¾ born on time and there will be another coming out before the end of August. Exciting, what?
Have a nice trip