Labour Research April 2021

Health & Safety Matters

Minicab drivers take action

London minicab drivers last month took strike action against app-based private hire operators, including Bolt, Uber, Free Now and Ola, in protest at the murder of IWGB union member Gabriel Bringye. Bringye was working for Bolt in north London.

The IWGB says assault and abuse is “endemic” in the sector. The majority of drivers who responded to a union survey said they had been physically assaulted at work and over 80% had experienced verbal abuse. The strike launched a wider campaign for improvements in driver safety, accountability from operators, and “culture change”.

Meanwhile, the Usdaw retail union has called on MPs to support key workers in the sector. Its 2020 survey of 2,729 shopworkers across the UK found that 88% experienced verbal abuse, 60% were threatened by a customer, and nine per cent were assaulted.

The union welcomed “ground-breaking” new legislation to protect shopworkers in Scotland after the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill 2021 received Royal Assent and became an Act in February 2021.

But Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said the Westminster government has “persistently opposed” new legislation. “We are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be part of the job,” he said.

“We are now looking for MPs to support key workers across the retail sector and help turn around the UK government’s opposition.”