By: Michaell Lange,
London, 27/04/16 –
I have never, in my entire life, been through a situation like the one I am going through now. Worries me what the future will bring. I always thought that hard work would always be compensated and that was my policy. In fact, this is how it used to be for Addison lee drivers. You could make up to £1200 pounds working 60 hours a week. A decent salary for sure. But I was wrong about hard working. If the company you work for has been sold to a hedge fund or a big corporation, chances are that the human factor ceased from existing. They don’t even think about spending any money on Corporate Social Responsibility. The only responsibility of companies such as Carlyle Group is to make money at all costs for whoever is their shareholders. Numbers are taking over humans and humans will be destroyed by numbers! Wherever I look to people’s face on the streets of London I see tension and preoccupation. What’s wrong with our society? For how long this social structure will be able to hold before it completely collapse on the top of the heads of those responsible for all this misery? Life for many, has become an invincible race against numbers. The more you run, the more difficult it become to make the numbers you need to survive. Addison Lee has unfortunately, become another victim of the economic greedy culture that took over the world. But not everything is lost. Addison Lee drivers have proved it last Tuesday (26). If people get united, they can stop abuse. They can stop the race to the bottom. What Addison Lee drivers have started will be an exemple for Londoners to challenge big corporations and the government for their abuse of power at will. We will stop it!
The apology made by the former Addison Lee owner, John Griffins, a day after the demonstration at Berkeley Square, made me think about the whole situation Addison Lee drivers found themselves in. For the past two months or so, I’ve been talking to drivers over the recent changes that brought so much pain for thousands of families that are dependent on Addison Lee success. For the first time, drivers decided to leave their “black comfortable world” of Ford Galaxy, Prius and Mercs, to talk to each other. What has prevented them from do it before was probably, a lack of a common reason. Now they have a common reason to unite and it’s a powerful one. There is now a common ground where drivers from all backgrounds, painfully share. They realised they have been robbed, abused, neglected, and pushed to the ground by the same people they are making richer everyday by their hard working.
Companies like Carlyle Group, the new owners of Addison Lee, are cutting drivers earnings by as much as 50% by ramping up charges, and changing the payment system to maximise their gains. Changes on payment happens very often and in many cases without warning. These new policies are letting drivers in a constant state of tension and unable to make any future plan. These practices are not only shameful, but they should not be allowed to happen in the UK or anywhere else in the world. The government is allowing big corporations such as Carlyle Group, to ship their profits to off shore companies avoiding paying tax. They leave peanuts for the British economy and make people grow into a cycle of unpayable debt. This is exactly what it’s been happening to thousands of Addison Lee drivers. My relation with Addison Lee was one of a love story. Now it has become my worst nightmare and the worst nightmare for thousands of Addison Lee drivers. Addison Lee is not the only company to suffer in the greedy hands of Carlyle Group. The roadside assistance firm RAC, has a very similar story. As soon as the firm was bought by Carlyle Group in 2011, workers started to be squeezed. Workers must realise what these big corporations are up to and react to stop them from turning good companies such as Addison Lee, into bags of rubbish on their ways to the dumps.
In the case of Addison Lee drivers, they have made a decision. Enough is enough! Last Tuesday (26), hundreds of Addison Lee drivers drove down towards Carlyle Group office at Berkeley Square in West London, to show their indignation against the new cuts and charges that saw an astonishing £25 million pounds being ripped off from drivers earnings in the past year or so. The situation is so bad that thousands of drivers have been forced to leave from their credit cards to pay the basic bills at the end of each month, pushing thousands of families into debt and poverty. There is absolutely no justification for cuttings of over 50% in drivers earnings. There is nothing in the industry that would justify that either. Profits at Addison Lee have been growing year on year. The only justification left for such aggressiveness towards the drivers is corporation greedy. That, coming from Carlyle group isn’t a surprise, but how long will they be allowed to continue with these destructive tactics? Addison Lee drivers are taking this matter in their own hands and they are threatening to stop working until a fair deal can be introduced.
Carlyle Group could have avoided public exposure by talking to the driver to find a fair way to resolve the dispute, but they preferred to ignore the drivers outcry. Since the demonstration last Tuesday, other groups are targeting the company by threatening to publish thousands of Addison Lee customers details on the internet if they continue to exploit drivers to increase their profitability. Although the drivers movement has no links with any radical group, it shows that public exposure can bring more harm than just negative publicity. In addition, Addison Lee and Carlyle Groups are also using intimidation tactics to stop drivers from taking part in actions, which shows just how low they are prepared to go to secure their objectives. So far, drivers have not shown any signs of backing off and as their unity grows, their confidence grows with it to help them to fight against injustice. The arrival of GMB to support the cause is a incredible development towards a positive resolution for the drivers. The General trade union is a powerful force behind their cause with over 630 thousand members, drivers are certain that the GMB experience will help them to achieve the justice they are looking for. In the mean time, new actions are being proposed for the following weeks and more demonstration such as the one on Tuesday, will take place in the near future until Carlyle Group realise that, Addison Lee cannot be without drivers. The fight continues…