Unite Scotland today (31 March) welcomed further support announced by Dundee City Council for taxi and private hire drivers through a £1,000 grant. Unite is now demanding that all local authorities in Scotland follow the lead of Dundee as its repeats its call for the suspension of licensing fees by all local authorities to assist drivers at this time. 

Unite is also calling on the Scottish government to deliver a £10,000 grant for each taxi operator, which is the equivalent support being given to other small business owners, and for an additional second cash grant to drivers from the £57 million Coronavirus (COVID-19): Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund. A recent Scottish Parliament petition (PE01856) lodged by Unite in March calling for more support for the taxi trade has gained thousands of signatures. 

In December 2020, an online survey of over 200 taxi drivers released by Unite Scotland highlighted that many drivers are regularly working 16-17-hour days with a shift being determined as having been ‘good’ if £50 is cleared. The survey also showed that 30% of drivers had at the time been unable to access any financial help from government support schemes. For those that had been able to access financial help from government the biggest group (37%) reported that it represented less than 25% of their average earnings.

Willie Thomson, Unite industrial officer, said: “We welcome this support from Dundee City Council. It’s desperately needed for many drivers whose income has been and continues to be decimated by Covid and the current restrictions. Other councils including those of our largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, must follow Dundee’s lead and do more to help workers and families in the taxi trade. 

“Through no fault of their own many of our members have been refused support over the past 12 months. They continue to face significant financial hardship as a result of drastically reduced trade. Taxis remain a vital part of our public transport network and more support from the Scottish Government must be delivered. The Scottish government must recognise the high fixed costs faced by many taxi operators and deliver support to these workers.”