WHY CHRIS JOHNSON IS CROWDFUNDING TO TAKE MYTAXI TO AN EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL
An Employment Tribunal will define if we are “marketing ourselves to the world” or not, in an independent capacity.
If Chris Johnson loses:- we can transfer the argument across to the reasonable understanding that if we are “marketing ourselves to the world” independently on the App then there is a strong argument that we must be “plying for hire” independently on the App. Is this logical?
Plying for hire is all about availability and exhibition and probably not very different to marketing oneself as available for hire, we have our Taxi hire light on when we are marketing our availability for hire, and off when we’re not marketing ourselves “for hire” (*I'll come back to this point).
Chris is bringing an “employment case” against MyTaxi, subject to raising £18,000 - it's not a regulatory case – therefore, we must not confuse the two.
If Chris loses the case, it'll be because MyTaxi has successfully argued that he is “marketing himself to the world” via the App as an independent Taxi business and not integrated into MyTaxi's business.
The taxi trade should then be able to take the arguments from the employment tribunal case and argue that the judgment potentially tells us that we are operating independently on the app and “marketing ourselves to the world” independently via an app. Therefore, in my opinion, we would have a strong argument in asking, how is this different to plying for hire?
THIS IS 'IF' CHRIS LOSES AN EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL.
My opinion is;
The level of control MyTaxi exert over the driver, i.e. terminating or suspending drivers without reason, fixed airport fares, a minimum £10 charge greater than the metered fare, etc. I don't see how an employment tribunal judge could say that we are operating independently and on our own, there is simply too much “control” applied by MyTaxi for this to be the case. I believe we are a limb-b workers (a limb-b worker is just a category of self-employment with worker rights)
We will not lose our self-employed status if Chris wins his worker rights claim.
*Coming back to plying for hire. To obtain a statutory declaration of plying for hire, especially on Apps would be a good thing and I would support anyone for trying, but the problem in doing so, in my opinion, is a judge would have to look at all aspects of existing case law, and would potentially take the Uber employment tribunal case into consideration as well, where it was decided that the driver WAS NOT “marketing himself to the world” independently.
Which begs the question, is “plying for hire” and “marketing yourself to the world” one of the same thing?
The Uber employment tribunal found that Uber is in control. Uber deactivate/suspend drivers, control fare prices. In the same way as MyTaxi fix fares, deactivate and suspend drivers, etc.
This fits with the argument that if Uber, as an Operator, is in control and accepting the booking (we allege the driver does, but that's a different matter and potentially a breach the 1998 PH act), then the booking must be pre-booking to fit with Private Hire legislation.
A judgement which found that Uber was “marketing itself to the world” independently, because Private Hire drivers cannot 'ply for hire' independently, also not find that MyTaxi to be “marketing itself to the world” independently, as London Taxi drivers cannot “ply for hire” outside the Met?
This was highlighted when the Dad’s Defending Daughters, supported by the LCDC, went to
Brighton to highlight out of area app jobs.
• Uber in control of the driver.
• An App job is a pre-booking.
• Result: Driver is a worker for Uber and has limb-b worker rights.
• Is MyTaxi in control of the driver?
• How can MyTaxi offer jobs to drivers outside of their licensed area unless it's a pre-booking?
• Result: Is the taxi driver a worker for MyTaxi, and would Chris win a claim for worker rights?
Maybe it is wise to suggest, we should first understand if we are “marketing ourselves to the world independently” or not, on an App, before we ask if we are “plying for hire” on the App.
To do this we would need to support Chris in his employment tribunal case against MyTaxi.
If Chris wins, drivers using the app will be entitled to basic protections such as National Minimum Wage, paid annual leave and protection under anti-discrimination legislation. Given the increasing market dominance of these Apps, these are important rights, and winning may well stop Apps like MyTaxi illegitimately undercutting individuals who are genuinely operating on their own account.
If Chris loses, we are potentially plying for hire on the App, and MyTaxi would not be able to offer Private Hire on the app.
Maybe the employment argument also supports anyone trying to obtain a declaration of plying for hire.
If we fail to support an employment tribunal case against MyTaxi, then corporate apps will eat us alive, especially when the Taxi fleet is reduced because more diesel cabs are coming off the road than can be replaced by electric alternatives, coupled with very few Knowledge students - what happens when MyTaxi have more demand than supply?
Would they put minicabs on the App to meet demand? We have seen that scenario before.
These are loopholes we must close to protect our future.
Assurances from Mr McNamara and friends have landed us where we are today, please don’t let us walk blindly into oblivion.
Fred C. Dobbs
Fred C. Dobbs