By Peter Kinsella
BY DE-REGULATING the taxi industry in 2000, the Fianna Fail/PD government sentenced thousands of taxi drivers and their families to years of unnecessary economic hardship and strain.
Taxi drivers today are working 16 hour days and are still unable to earn a living wage. There are 14,000 taxis in Dublin, more than New York that has ten times the population! This is the neo-liberal market gone mad.
The economic crisis has severely exacerbated the situation facing taxi drivers. With workers in all industries being hit with savage wage cuts, the knock on effect has been a massive decline in spending. This means less money is being spent in restaurants, shops, taxis and so on.
These worsening circumstances have spawned the creation of the rank and file organisation, Taxi Drivers for Change who are calling for a moratorium on the issuing of licences, more control for drivers to review and restructure the industry and fundamentally for the government to save their jobs.
The government has created this mess, not only by deregulating taxi licences, but also by abdicating its responsibility to provide a decent public transport system to the market and private enterprise. The problem has not merely been supply or demand but a complete lack of investment, planning and co-ordination of the transport system.
Taxi Drivers for Change should aim to build a mass campaign involving as many drivers as possible and make this a national campaign to force the regulator and the government to stop issuing licences.
Socialist Party Demands:
- No issuing of new licences.
- Full review of the taxi industry to determine the numbers needed – involving drivers and their reps.
- Decent living wage for all drivers.
- Build mass co-ordinated campaign to defeat the government and regulator.