Minicab drivers at Luton Airport braved the cold weather yesterday to protest against pay and conditions working for Addison Lee.
The protesters, represented by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), say their take home pay falls below minimum wage.
Analysis by the United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) shows Addison Lee drivers often work over 70 hours per week, earning little more than £1000, but after £270 in vehicle rent and 35% commission by Addison Lee are deducted, along with costs such as fuel, drivers take home around £225 per week in pay.
Sohail Choudhary, Chair of the Luton UPHD branch, said: "Drivers such as myself working for Addison Lee at Luton Airport have been reduced to working in sweatshop conditions and yet we can barely scrape by.
"It is a disgrace how Addison Lee treat their workers, and it is a disgrace that Luton Borough Council allow them to continue to do so.
"The council must resolve their clear conflict of interest as the ultimate owner of Luton Airport, benefiting from a lucrative contract that gives Addison Lee exclusive rights to operate at the airport, while having a responsibility as a licensing authority to ensure drivers like myself are not mistreated."
Minicab drivers are also protesting against the “indignity” of their treatment by Addison Lee, with claims of workplace bullying. The majority Muslim workforce is required to make their daily prayers outside on the tarmac by the taxi rank.
MP for Luton South, Gavin Shuker, said: "I've spoken with the drivers at the airport and heard about the significant impact Addison Lee's charges are having on their living standards. Drivers told me they are routinely having to work 70 hours a week to make ends meet and that is not sustainable. I've also met with the Chief Executive of the company, Andy Boland, and am waiting for a response to these concerns."
The IWGB is calling for Addison Lee to:
> Reduce commission to 20% from current levels recently increased to 35%
> Withdraw vehicle rental price increase of £20 per week
> Pay drivers for time they spend taking Addison Lee vehicles for maintenance and inspections
> End workplace bullying now "rife" at Luton Airport
> Provide a suitable place of worship for drivers
> Respect the legal worker rights of drivers as confirmed by the Employment Tribunal in 2017 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/59d4cdd9ed915d2b82ee34e0/Mr_M_Lange_and_Others_v_Addison_Lee_Ltd_2208029-2016___Others__Final_and_Reasons.pdf.
In response to these claims, an Addison Lee spokesman said: "We are proud of our mutually beneficial arrangement with our Luton driver partners and want them to earn a decent living.
"As a result of our ongoing investment in our Luton operations since 2016, average Luton driver pay increased by 11.6% in 2018, year on year.
"To that end, the recent changes in our Luton driver partner deal included increases in fares to ensure driver income wasn’t impacted.”