A Wigan hackney cab driver is hoping it will be a case of “united we stand” after forming a new organisation to battle against threats to the sector.
Eddie Earley, from Worsley Mesnes, has founded the RMT on Wigan North Western trade union branch and already has around 20 drivers on board.
There’s always the move towards deregulation so it’s about keeping the hackney trade going and making sure we’ve got a future in WiganEddie Earley
He is now urging other taxi drivers in the borough to think about signing up so the hackney cab industry can speak with a united voice on local issues.
Taxi drivers in Wigan have previously been represented by Unite but Mr Earley says tying in with the union which represents transport workers makes sense as the hackney cabs are closely associated with working at the railway stations.
Mr Earley, 61, said: “There’s always the move towards deregulation so it’s about keeping the hackney trade going and making sure we’ve got a future in Wigan.
“When you think about it hackneys work at train stations so linking with the RMT makes sense. When you first come out of the station the first thing you see is a hackney and can get into a properly registered vehicle.
“When I had a meeting with the RMT shop steward he said he would 100 per cent back us in what we wanted to do.
“I had another meeting last week over some issues and they have now been dealt with.”
Mr Earley says the new union branch is open to any hackney cab driver in the borough, not just those who work at the railway stations.
The RMT on Wigan North Western also has the full backing of the borough’s branch of the Hackney Carriage Association.
Mr Earley believes the industry needs to come together in order to be able to better express drivers’ views in negotiation with Wigan Council and to counter new developments in the sector such as the rise of self-employed drivers and firms in the so-called “gig economy”.
He said: “Uber is coming into Wigan soon and that is a threat to the whole sector, everybody will be affected.
“Once they get in they seem to rocket in membership, so I think we will see more cars hanging around the railway stations where they shouldn’t be and causing congestion and safety issues.
“At the moment we have to ask Wigan Council for a price rise, whereas private hire firms can put their prices up whenever they want, although admittedly not many have over the past few years.
“We just want to ensure the traditional of the hackney trade isn’t lost.”
Mr Earley is currently running a campaign from his vehicle to encourage more drivers in the borough to join the union.