ADDISON LEE AND ME

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…

 

THE BRAZILIAN THEATRE OF SHAME

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 19 /04/16 –

The Congress worked in exemplary fashion in recent weeks. They packed the plenary during last Sunday (17) session, a fact so rare as the total eclipse of the sun. They were all there in their fancy dresses, red noses and sharp tongues to vote massively for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. The house was full. If they could, they would bring their families and friends, as if they were about to watch the theatrical show of the century, and indeed it was. With the exception of the truth and the Federal Constitution, no one missed the show. While the military patrolled arrogantly in their tanks on the streets of Brazil, the congressmen in ecstasy, unloaded all their hatred in the Courthouse of Congress. It was the show of the century, but it wasn’t pretty or exemplary. It was ugly, dirty, hateful, miserable, shameful, illegal, irresponsible, inappropriate, and of sadness so deep that turned comedy. They managed to raise absurdity to such a level that it became funny. And how not to laugh at situations such as the deputy who praised her husband as an example of citizen, just to find the next morning that he was arrested by federal police on charges of corruption? Like any comedy show, we laughed out loud at such absurdity!

In any democracy the people are sovereign, and it is the only institution allowed to elect mayors, governors, deputies, senators and the president. These, are not the owners of the state. They are just representatives who must respect and be faithful to the Federal Constitution above all. But, in Brazil, this concept of democracy seems to exist only on election day. Once elected, politicians become some kind of God with absolute and supernatural powers as well as unlimited authority. They are in fact, so they believe, sent by God! And speaking of God, he was slandered all day long by those false prophets and false religious leaders. They do everything to ensure they got the vote, and then, overnight, they become the landlords of the state. They do whatever they please without fear. After all, they were sent by God. When they work by themselves, the threat to the state is little, but when they work together, they become the biggest single threat to national security. The Sunday (17) was the greatest proof of that. The army took to the streets waiting for a possible invasion, perhaps led by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, or even a surprise appearance of Bolívar himself. Yes, the Brazilian military mentality stopped evolving in the 1960s. The arguments are the same and the rhetoric of hatred as well. When they combine forces with false religious leaders, the whole world is in danger.

Nothing is impossible for an elected Brazilian politician. They have the power to drop lawsuits, to interfere in the course of justice, they abuse power and exercise powers that they do not have or at least they shouldn’t. The Federal Constitution is a mere inconvenient book which is only remembered with great caution, when it’s extremely necessary and even then, during last Sunday session, she wasn’t mentioned once. Clearly, its presence at that spurious session would not be appropriate in any way, shape or form. Instead, they exercise a parallel power that follows its own imaginary laws, based on their own codes and doctrines dictated by the Bible and military mentality. The Federal Constitution probably appears as the fourth or fifth position in the ranking of importance, behind even to personal interests of each public servant. At the congress, even the alleged Constitutional reason to justify the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, was only mentioned after the 400th deputy vote. Only then, the justification was mentioned.

After the shameful spectacle of last Sunday, one thing was clear. The Brazilian government is a farce! It’s a scam that has been exposed and solidified live on national television. Brazilians have been calling for years for the end to corruption. Last Sunday they received in exchange, a factional dictatorship of one political party, the PMDB Party, who now, controls all the state powers. Michel Temer from PMDB party, will be the new president as he is Dilma’s vice-president. The House of Representatives is chaired by a gangster called Eduardo Cunha, also a PMDB party member, and the Senate Chamber is presided by Renan Calheiros, another gangster from PMDB Party. If we can call it democracy, it would be very difficult to define what would be a dictatorship. Dictated democracy does not exist. It was created to camouflage the assault and handling the crime for the perpetuation of the powerful, by the powerful, for the powerful. The people are merely an inconvenient informality that occasionally can be used as a tool to defend or attack those who by any means, control the media and the justice in Brazil.

But in Brazil every day is celebration’s day, and last Sunday it wasn’t different. It’s not clear though what they were celebrating, or the cause of their celebration. After all, what could Brazil be celebrating after the most shameful show in Brazilian history being shown live on national television? How can there be a democratic system when the President is overthrown precisely by those who lost the last presidencial elections? What democracy allows war tanks to patrol the streets of a free and sovereign country in a clear display of force against any threat that could risk the success of the operation? Which form of democracy would allow a gangster such as Eduardo Cunha, or a convicted criminal such as Paulo Maluff, and many others accused of corruption, to vote out a president who has not been accused or convicted of any wrong doing? Brazilian democracy is most definitely a scam, and the Brazilian government is definitely a hoax. How can this country possibly work with these gangsters in power? It’s impossible!

The Sunday (17) proved that Brazil, or the two Brazils, are not governed but instead, ruled by a bunch of criminals. The people are divided. They support A or B without realising A and B are part of the same side. The same side that steals, deceives, corrupt, kills innocent people, and rape the nations assets in the name of this pseudo democracy they have now. It’s very strange and bizarre to look at it from here and see Brazilians treating other Brazilians as if they were strangers and invaders of their own country. This division is the perfect recipe for the perpetuation of social domination. It must end!

The partition of Brazilian people is a pathological evidence of the social disease that is killing Brazil today. They are suffering from a serious social disease in advanced stage that already cost them their vision, their sensitivity as well as their sense of what is right and wrong. Their memory was torn by some form of hypnosis making them unable to recognise their greatest enemy. It wasn’t the PT Party who suffered a blow, not Democracy either. Who suffered a catastrophic blow this past Sunday was the Brazilian people. Those hundreds of thousands of people who went to the streets in red protesting against the coup. Also, those millions of Brazilians who went to the streets in green and yellow to protest for democracy.

Brazilian politicians have shown their true faces and it’s ugly as it can possibly be. They spat at each others face, they shout and offended one another, they used foul language totally inappropriate to the place and the position they were elected for. They broke all the rules of decency and morality. They were shameful with no emotional control or any dignity. In fact, they were representing the very worst in Brazilian society. They behaved like true social garbage that needs to be fought against. There were absolutely nothing to justify the behaviour of the Army and Congressmen in the last Sunday session. They destroyed the morale, they placed the Federal Constitution in the rubbish bin and destroyed any shred of credibility the country had left. The world watched the Brazilian politic circus as a comedy show on Sundays night, and the people of Brazil were the biggest clowns thanks to these gentlemen that have proved once again, they are unable to represent Brazil in any way. They have made Brazil look like the most stupid place on Earth and the country will pay a big price for that. They should resign collectively and never run for public office again. Only then, Brazil will have a chance to restore their political dignity and recover from this dark moment in its history. But, I think it will be easier to make turkeys vote for Christmas than Brazilian politics give way to a all new generation of politicians. Shame on them!

O TEATRO DA VERGONHA

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 19//04/16 –

O Congresso Nacional trabalhou de forma exemplar nas ultimas semanas. Lotaram o plenário em pleno Domingo, um fato tão raro quanto o eclipse total do Sol. Estavam todos lá neste ultimo Domingo (17), com suas fantasias e suas línguas afiadas para votar massivamente pelo impeachment da Presidente Dilma Rousseff. A Casa estava cheia. Se pudessem, teriam levado suas famílias e seus amigos, como se estivessem prestes a assistir a apresentação teatral do século. Com exceção da verdade e da Constituição Federal, ninguém faltou ao espetáculo. Enquanto as Forças Armadas desfilavam arrogantes em seus tanques de guerra nas ruas do país em afronta ao povo Brasileiro, nossos congressistas em ecstasy, descarregavam todo o seu ódio na tribuna do congresso. Foi de fato o espetáculo do século, mas não foi bonito, nem exemplar. Foi na verdade, feio, sujo, odioso, infeliz, vergonhoso, ilegal, irresponsável, inapropriado, e de uma tristeza tão profunda que virou comédia. Conseguiram elevar o absurdo a tal patamar que ficou engraçado. E como não rir de situações como a da Deputada que homenageou o marido que segundo ela, é um exemplo para o Brasil e em menos de 24h o mesmo exemplo ter sido preso por corrupção? Assim como qualquer espetáculo de comédia, rimos do inacreditável!

Em qualquer democracia o povo é soberano, e é a única instituição com poderes para eleger prefeitos, governadores, deputados, senadores e o presidente da república. Estes, não são os donos do país. São apenas representantes que devem respeitar acima de tudo, a Constituição Federal. No Brasil esse conceito de democracia parece existir apenas no dia das eleições. Uma vez eleitos, os políticos passam a ser uma espécie de Deuses com poderes absolutos e sobrenaturais, e com autoridade ilimitada. São de fato, acreditam eles, enviados de Deus! E por falar em Deus, este, foi difamado o dia inteiro por falsos profetas. Falsos líderes e falsos religiosos. Usam de qualquer artifício para garantir o voto, e do dia para noite, se tornam os proprietários de todos os bens do estado, e fazem deles o que bem entenderem, sem medo de serem questionados porque afinal de contas, são enviados de Deus. Quando sós, a ameaça ao estado é fracionada, mas quando unidos, tornam-se a maior ameaça a segurança nacional. O Domingo (17) foi a maior prova disso. O exército foi para as ruas esperando uma possível invasão talvez, liderada por Che Guevara e Fidel Castro, ou mesmo de uma aparição surpresa do próprio Bolívar. Sim porque a mentalidade militar parou de evoluir em 1960. Os Argumentos são os mesmos e a retórica do ódio também. E quando eles se unem aos falsos religiosos, o mundo inteiro corre perigo. Essa combinação é mais perigosa que pólvora na mão de crianças.

Nada é impossível para um político eleito. Derrubam processos legais, interferem no curso da justiça, abusam dos poderes e exercem poderes que não lhes cabem. A Constituição Federal é uma mera coadjuvante que só é lembrada, com muita cautela, quando é de extrema necessidade e mesmo assim, no Domingo não se ouviu falar dela. Claramente a sua presença naquele palco espúrio não seria conveniente. Exercem um poder paralelo que segue suas próprias Leis imaginárias, pelos códigos e doutrinas ditadas pela Bíblia, pelo militarismo e pelo partidarismo. A Constituição Federal aparece lá pela quarta ou quinta posição no ranking de importância ficando atras até mesmo dos interesses pessoais de cada servidor público. Não houve uma citação da Constituição Federal, e o motivo pelo qual o processo de impeachment foi implantado, só foi citado depois do voto de número 400.

Depois do vergonhoso espetáculo do último domingo, uma coisa ficou clara. O governo do Brasil é uma farsa! Uma farsa que foi exposta e solidificada ao vivo e em rede nacional. O povo, hoje um pouco mais instruído, pediu o fim da corrupção e recebeu em troca uma ditadura partidarista do PMDB, que agora comanda todos os poderes do estado. Michel temer do PMDB será o novo presidente da República. A Câmara dos Deputados é presidida por ninguém menos que Eduardo Cunha, do PMDB, e a Câmara do Senado é presidida por ninguém menos que Renan Calheiros, também do PMDB. Se chamarmos isso de democracia, ficaria difícil definir o que seria uma ditadura. Democracia ditada não existe. Ela foi criada para camuflar o assalto, a manipulação do crime e a perpetuação do poder pelos poderosos, para os poderosos. O povo é meramente uma informalidade inconveniente que vez por outra, pode ser usada como ferramenta de ataque ou de defesa àqueles que, por meios lícitos ou não, tem o controle dos meios de comunicação e da justiça. A máfia da merenda de São Paulo por exemplo, ainda não foi ouvida por causa da falta de quorum. Pode? Essa justiça, sem dúvidas, tem dono!

Mas, Domingo foi dia de celebração. Não se sabe bem o que estavam a celebrar, ou porque estavam a celebrar. A música Perfeição, da Legião Urbana talvez tenha muito a nos dizer sobre nossas celebrações nestes últimos tempos. A musica de Renato Russo, talvez nunca tenha sido tão apropriada e atual. Afinal, o que poderíamos celebrar depois de assistir ao vivo na TV, a derrubada de uma presidente democraticamente eleita pelos Brasileiros, sem que ela tenha sido julgada ou condenada por crime algum? Como é possível existir um sistema democrático quando a presidente da república é deposta justamente por aqueles que perderam as eleições? Qual democracia permite que tanques de guerra patrulhem as ruas de um país livre e soberano em uma clara afronta a todo e qualquer elemento que pudesse colocar em risco o sucesso da operação? Qual democracia permitiria que um réu corrupto como Eduardo Cunha, ou um ja condenado como Maluff e outros tantos acusados de corrupção, possam derrubar uma presidente que não foi condenada a nada? Nossa democracia é obviamente uma farsa! Nosso governo é obviamente uma farsa.

O Domingo (17) provou que o  Brasil, ou os dois Brasis, não são governados mas sim, comandado por um bando de criminosos. O povo, dividido, apoia o lado A ou B sem perceber que  A e B fazem parte do mesmo lado. O mesmo lado que rouba, que engana, que corrompe, que mata o povo nos hospitais e nas periferias, e que estupra a nossa nação em nome dessa pseudo democracia. É muito estranho e bizarro olhar aqui de fora e ver Brasileiros tratando outros Brasileiros como se fossem estrangeiros, invasores do seu próprio país. Essa divisão é a receita perfeita para a perpetuação da dominação.

A divisão do povo Brasileiro é uma evidência patológica da doença social que o Brasil vive atualmente. Estamos sofrendo de uma doença grave em estado avançado que ja nos tirou a visão, a sensibilidade e a noção do que é certo e errado. Nossa memória nos foi arrancada por hipnose e somos incapazes de reconhecer nosso maior inimigo. Não foi o PT que sofreu um golpe, nem a Democracia. Quem sofreu um golpe neste Domingo passado foi o povo Brasileiro. Foram as centenas de milhares de pessoas que saíram as ruas de vermelho gritando não ao golpe. Foram os milhões de Brasileiros que foram as ruas de verde e amarelo defendendo a democracia. Os congressistas por outro lado e meio sem intensão, mostraram suas verdadeiras faces. Cuspiram-se, ofenderam-se, usaram de palavriado baixo, feio e inapropriado para a posição que ocupam. Nos envergonharam de todas as formas com a falta de controle emocional, pela falta de educação e dignidade. De fato, representaram o que há de pior na sociedade Brasileira. Se comportaram como o verdadeiro lixo social que precisa ser combatido. Não há absolutamente nada que justifique o comportamento das Forças Armadas e dos congressistas Brasileiros no último Domingo. Feriram a moral, a Constituição Federal, e destruiram qualquer resquício de credibilidade que ainda restava ao país. O mundo assistiu ao circo Brasileiro como um programa de comédia aos Domingos. Fomos os palhaços do ano! Graças a estes senhores que provaram não ter capacidade de representar o povo Brasileiro, fizemos mais uma vez, o papel de palhaço. Deveriam renunciar coletivamente e não mais concorrerem a cargos públicos. Só assim teríamos alguma chance de restaurar a dignidade política do nosso país. Mas acho que seria mais fácil fazer o peru votar a favor do Natal.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR ADDISON LEE DRIVERS? (opinion)

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 16/04/16 –

The industry of minicabs and taxi drivers is not much different than other industries around the world. Industries follow a very similar pattern which covers demand and maximise profits. Like any other industry, there are different consumers with different demands which are usually defined by financial powers.

Your financial income will define the clothing you’ll wear, the car you’ll drive, the restaurants you’ll go to, the quality of services you’ll demand, the hotels and places you’ll go for a holiday, the supermarkets you’ll buy from, the airlines you’ll fly with, etc. This is why you can look around you and easily see why there are companies such as Asda, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland on one hand, and M&S and Waitrose in the other hand, as well as Morrison’s, Tesco and Sainsbury’s in between the two extremes. They exist to supply the demand of different groups of consumers asking for different types of products, qualities and prices. The same happens in most of other markets, where we can see the same pattern being followed by companies. You will decide whether to fly British Airways or Ryanair or EasyJet based primarily on your financial power.

Here in London, the minicab industry is going through a lot of changes, especially after the introduction of the giant Uber. But how much impact Uber has done to Addison Lee? Of course low prices will suck costumers from one place to the other but the likes of Ryanair and EasyJet didn’t drive British Airways out of business. In fact, for Addison Lee, the impact of Uber has not been, in my view, as big as it has been for blackCabs and other minicab companies, as they share a similar type of customers and use a similar pricing system. BlackCabs and Uber for instance, use a variable pricing system (meter), and Addison Lee use a fixed pricing system. For Addison Lee customers, the route taken to the destination is irrelevant as the price will not change. Avoit traffic is more important for them. For BlackCabs and Uber customers, a drive around the M25 to avoid the central London traffic can see the price surge many times over. So Addison Lee and Uber are more like British Airways and Ryanair. Prices might be different but we cannot possibly compare the quality and the professionalism offered by Addison Lee with those offered by Uber. It would be like comparing British Airways to Ryanair. It just doesn’t make any sense. Some people shop in ASDA and some others shop at Harrods. Some people fly British Airways, some others fly Ryanair. These companies survive because they have their own type of customers. The competition between the two only occur within a small percentage of the market. In London, there is no competition on the same level of Addison Lee. Over all, Addison Lee is the best MiniCab company in town and will continue to be as long as they continue to provide top quality service and don’t starve their drivers from a decent living wage. But is this what Addison Lee is planning for the future?

Addison Lee has obviously, lost a lot of ASAP jobs including CASH and Credit Card jobs, but hold on a minute, Addison Lee is still the best Minicab company in the UK with the best drivers, the best fleet, the best safety record and services. Moreover, Addison Lee supply some of the biggest and most important accounts in London with thousands of pre-booked jobs done every day. Addison Lee is also the most trustworthy company in London and is certainly the number one choice for Londoners, specially for women looking to go home after a night out. So who would you rather fly with, Ryanair or British Airways? Who would you rather travel with, Addison Lee or Uber? Of course, if you can choose, most of us would definitely go for BA and AL, because we know who has the best service and the best reputation, and people trust them. British Airways customers don’t fly Ryanair unless they have to. Just like Addison Lee costumers don’t use Uber unless they have to. So what could be behind the new pricing policy introduced by the new company owners in 2015? Why has these changes caused such mayhem for Addison Lee driver’s earnings? What is Carlyle’s plan for the future of Addison Lee? Could it be an incredible strategy mistake?

Although Addison Lee management claims Uber factor is behind the changes, nobody at Addison Lee has so far, been able to explain why the changes was only introduced in May 2015, three years after Uber started operations in the UK. But coincidently, the changes have been introduced just after the former owners of Addison Lee left the company and management in the hands of the new owners, the Carlyle Group, an American Hedge Fund with not the best reputation in treating their employees and known to have some of the most aggressive strategies to keep growing their profits. Therefore, the changes and charges being imposed on drivers may have been more to do with a change of management strategies than the changes in the market itself. But, the question stands, what’s next for Addison Lee drivers? They are working much harder for much less and they are completely blind about the future of the company. Is Carlyle squeezing the life of Addison Lee to sell it for scratch later on? As drivers leave the company in numbers never seen before, those who decided to stay a bit longer are starting to ask, is this the end for one of the best MiniCab companies in the UK? Discontent between the driver has never been so high, and despite many attempts to bring Addison Lee to negotiation, the company has either ignored or refused to make any compromises to the drivers’ demands. Those who haven’t left yet are considering actions against the company until both parts can resolve the dispute over deep cuts in payment rates and unfair charges.

Surely, there was no mistakes made by Addison Lee management when they decided to give their customers up to 30% discount and make their drivers pay the full costs of it. From the financial point of view its perfect. You transfer all the costs to your drivers and keep all the profits. It makes sense, but it is monstrous and imoral! How about Addison Lee’s corporate social responsibilities? These costs, adding to 20% commission fee charged by Addison Lee in all Credit Card and cash jobs, amounts to an incredible 50% charge from drivers earnings, but that’s not all. After that inicial 50% charge, Addison Lee drivers still have to pay for insurance, car rent, tax and fuel. Under such pressure, Addison Lee drivers have been forced to work over 15 hours a day for in many cases, just breakeven. Many other drivers are working 7 days a week with no time for family or leisure. It’s a very unfair situation comparing to what drivers use to have just a year ago. Addison Lee went too far to quickly on the cuts and was left with no leverage for future possible changes in the market. The market may have changed, but in no way it changed to justify the incredible cuts in earnings that Addison Lee drivers have been experiencing in the past year or so.

The same way we will not see British Airways dropping their prices down to compete with Ryanair, or M&S dropping their prices down to compete with ASDA, it seems that Addison Lee has no reason to reduce their prices, in many cases below Uber’s, to compete with companies which don’t really share the same type of customers and level of quality offered by Addison Lee. Even less, Addison Lee should never charge their drivers for the discount they may give to their customers. It should be the company’s responsibilities to fund any discount and sales promotion.What Addison Lee has really going through right now is a severe and very aggressive change on the way the company make its profits. The cuts and charges imposed by Addison Lee on their drivers went far beyond the line of survival and is utterly unacceptable. It is vital that Addison Lee understands and recognises quickly, that the hard work of their drivers is their only source of revenue and without drivers the company would not survive. Therefore, its paramount that a fair payment deal for drivers should be guaranteed and protected by Addison Lee so the future of the company and the livelihood of their drivers can be secured.

 

A LETTER TO MY DEAR FELLOW FRIENDS

London, 07/04/16 –

I’ve just been to a meeting last night with my co-workers to discuss the struggles we have been through after the company we proudly work for was sold to what I like to call, an abomination form of modern exploitation firm, more commonly known as hedge fund. These terrible structures with the same rights of a person, works like huge hoovers sucking up the money from everything and concentrating it in the hands of few people. However, this letter is not about companies. I prefer to write about a subject that I love dearly which is people. I already knew a lot of my co-workers via social media, but haven’t met most of them until last night.

Unfortunately, I arrived late and by the time I came in, the chaos was already taking place. My first thought was: “this is not going to work”. I set down and watched my friends talking over each other while the speaker tried frenetically, to maintain control of the situation. Some people including myself, couldn’t hide the frustration over the lack of organisation we were witnessing. But, by listening and observing what was going on before my eyes, I was brought to terms with one of my own concepts of democracy. In my view, democracy is a chaotic system, and it is bound to be chaotic because this is the result of everybody having the same rights when everybody thinks differently from each other. What could we expect from a system where people have different views, different religions, different backgrounds, different political thoughts, but the same rights? It could be nothing differently from chaos. Nevertheless, this system still the best system because it gives power to the people.

The way to get some form of order from this chaotic system is by electing representatives like countries do when they elect governments. This is what I think we should do with our movement. We should not be naive to expect we can have meeting after meeting with three thousand people in a room and get consensus from it. This is not going to happen! Meetings like we had last night should be done only to vote and elect new representatives if at all. The rest of us, including myself, should be limited to discuss the points put forward by the board and bring the representatives to account when needed. Once we have a consensus, the board will have the power to take it to the company. That’s why the social media is vital for our case. Everyone of us should have access to our online group so we can have instant access to all the decision being taken by the board of representatives. Future meetings should be taken only by the board of representatives which shouldn’t be more than ten people. The decisions and the actions should then, be posted online and discussed by the members. It is easier to have online meetings where everybody can participate from the comfort of their homes.

We should not be worried about the meeting attendance number. I don’t think we can ever get a thousand people to attend a meeting somewhere, but I am sure we can have the support of the majority of the people if we have online meetings. Moreover, last night we were representing every fellow worker, even those who didn’t know anything about us. Once one know we are taking action, one will join in and support the cause we  all share. I am sure that any action we may take in the next two weeks from yesterday, will have close to 100% adherence. After all, it’s much easier for people to join in the action from wherever they are, than make them drive all across the town just to be in the meeting room. The number of attendance in meetings isn’t more important than the number of people join in the actions that we have decided to take. What we need to do now  however, is to keep talking to each other in the internet group and don’t waste any chance to talk to any of our fellows whenever and wherever we have the opportunity to do so. Communication is vital! When we talk to each other we know we are not alone. If I am approached by more than one of our friends in a single day to talk about the actions we are taking, it will give me a sense of power and unity. The less we talk to each other, the bigger the chance that the sense of power we have now will fade away. It doesn’t matter if we disagree here and there. The central point is that we are all being exploited by the company and this must change.

My fellow friends, it’s been a pleasure to meet you and talk to you over these past weeks. The experience gave me the opportunity to meet some extraordinary people and make some very good friends. It also gave me the opportunity to better understand the concerns and priorities that are affecting all of us for the past year or so. You told me your stories, opinions and suggestions which enriched my sense of human being. Your stories brought me closer to a better understanding of the human drama and the effects and consequences that we are all going through. The problems we are facing today brought us together in a way many of us haven’t experienced before. Friendship is a blessing brought to us this time by common life struggle, and although the past year has been incredibly hard, the opportunity to meet you and be part of this movement is priceless! I am sure that if we can stay together and support each other, we will have the power to take control of the boat and steer it towards calm waters. Whatever the weather, my advice is this: Keep calm and UNITE!

Best Regards! Michaell Lange.

O SEGREDO DE UMA SOCIEDADE DESENVOLVIDA NÃO ESTA NOS FALSOS LÍDERES. ESTA NAS CRIANÇAS!

Por: Michaell Lange,

Londres, 31/03/16 –

Hoje como de costume, levei meu filho no parque que ele também como de costume, escolheu. Há cinco parques aqui próximos de casa com boa infra-estrutura. O South Park e o Wimbledon Park são os preferidos do meu filho, e confesso que estes são meus preferidos também. Enquanto ele brincava, fiquei analisando e pensando sobre a quantidade de atividades de qualidade que ele tem acesso gratuitamente. Penso que isso pode transformar a vida dele incluindo as chances e eventuais oportunidades pessoais e profissionais que ele terá no futuro. Considerando que todas as crianças que estavam ali usufruem dos mesmos benefícios, isso significa que essa nova geração, dessa futura sociedade, ja estará a frente e com vantagens expressivas sobre outras milhares, (ou seriam milhões?) de crianças ao redor do mundo que não tem qualquer acesso a laser de qualidade. Sim, o Brasil é o país que sempre faz parte dos meus comparativos, afinal de contas, apesar da distância e do tempo, meu coração bate e sempre baterá em ritmo de samba. 
O estacionamento do parque ja para começar, é gratuito. Isso se você for de carro, porque há ônibus e metrô a todo minuto, mas hoje o automóvel foi o nosso meio de transporte. Logo que chegamos meu filho que tem três anos e meio, ja foi pegando sua bicicleta e saiu em disparada na direção de um parque de diversões que esta de visita esta semana aqui em Wimbledon. O governo local sempre exige, como parte da licença, que uma ou duas atividades sejam gratuitas. Por coincidência, ou sorte, o brinquedo que o Thomas mais gosta era gratuito. Depois de uns 10 minutos no brinquedo, o carinha metido a gente grande, pegou a bicicleta e saiu novamente em disparada. Passou na frente do campo de golfe e disse que queria jogar. Concordei porque ele adora brincar ali, e a bolinha e o taco são fornecidos pelo parque sem cobrança extra para crianças. Ficamos ali por uns 40 minutos até que ele perdesse o interesse. Saímos dali direto para as quadras de tênis onde ficamos jogando por mais meia hora. Depois disso, ele saiu a mil por hora novamente com a sua bicicleta, ziguezagueando por entre as pessoas que por ali caminhavam e só parou no playground (parquinho). Ficamos ali por mais meia hora até a hora de voltar pra casa, mas não antes ainda passamos no lago para alimentar os gansos e patos que ali habitam, além dos esquilos que adoram comer na nossa mão.
Essa rotina é seguida ao menos três vezes por semana com custo quase zero. Digo quase, porque ele sempre nos convence de tomar um sorvetinho (só nos finais de semana) ou tomar um famoso “Babyccino”, uma versão de capuccino para crianças preparado com espuma de leite e uma pitada de chocolate em pó no topo. A maioria das cafeterias não cobram por isso.
Meu maior questionamento é o seguinte: Qual é o impacto que tamanha diversidade de acesso a boas atividades como estas citadas acima, pode ter na vida de uma criança? Como seria o Brasil, se todas as crianças tivessem acesso aos mesmos benefícios que meu filho dispõe aqui no Reino Unido? É muito provável que somente crianças de classe média alta, vivendo em condomínios de luxo possuem acesso ao mesmo número de atividades que todas as crianças Britânicas tem por aqui sem custo extra, mas e o restante do futuro do Brasil como ficam? É evidente aos meus olhos que a violência e a marginalização da sociedade Brasileira, se deve ao fato de que nossas crianças crescem largadas ao vento e à sorte do acaso ou de ter talvez, uma bola de futebol para passar o tempo. Nossas crianças crescem negligenciadas pelo estado, discriminadas pela sociedade e serão mais tarde, acusadas de terem tido escolha e de terem feito a escolha errada. O que podemos esperar de uma sociedade que não cuida de suas crianças? Que futuro um país pode ter se, geração após geração as crianças continuam sendo totalmente marginalizadas, criminalizadas e negligenciadas pelo estado e pela sociedade?
Certamente algumas mentes Brasileiras ditas “intelectuais”, dirão que as crianças da periferia escolheram as ruas e a violência ao invés do esporte, do laser, da segurança, do incentivo, das oportunidades, da estabilidade familiar, da educação e da inclusão social. Ao contrario de crianças de países desenvolvidos, as crianças Brasileiras perderão o respeito e o valor social que uma criança instruída e bem educada poderia ter caso as oportunidades e os devidos investimentos estivessem disponíveis para toda a sociedade. O movimento dos estudantes de São Paulo são evidencias desse problema. Ao contrário das crianças Britânicas, as crianças Brasileiras são caçadas pela policia militar que faz triagem com vidas inocentes nas periferias em busca de adolescentes sem futuro e sem valor social. São vitimas de um extermínio sistemático, promovido pelo estado através da policia e ignorado pela sociedade. Um extermínio sistemático que extermina as chances de desenvolvimento do Brasil. Sem crianças bem formadas não somos nada!
No parque que meu filho brinca, crianças de algumas das famílias mais ricas do mundo, divertem-se lado-a-lado com todas as crianças. Dividem o mesmo balanço, o mesmo escorregador e socializam-se de forma natural, sem separação evidente de classes. Como você acha que o relacionamento entre estas crianças será no futuro? Não há preocupação com relação a quantidade de dinheiro que os pais possuem, nem seu status social. O que vale é a diversão das crianças e como elas aprendem a socializar-se com outras crianças.
A inocência do meu filho não lhe permite ainda, perceber minha angustia de vê-lo ali se divertindo com tanta liberdade, com crianças de todas as cores, nacionalidades e classes sociais, enquanto penso nos milhões de pequenos Brasileiros que nesse momento, estão a ver suas infâncias desaparecerem diante de seus olhos enquanto testemunham a violência a sua volta. Meu filho nunca me questionou porque algumas crianças são de cores diferentes, ou porque falam outra língua. Talvez isso seja porque desde sempre, essa foi a sua realidade e nunca tenha conhecido nada diferente dessa multiculturalidade que ele esta enquadrado.
Como o Brasil pode se quer pensar em construir um país melhor para si sem antes resolver o sofrimento e a negligência criminosa sofrida por nossas crianças? Como podemos acreditar que uma possível saída de um governo e a entrada de outro governo formado pelos mesmos partidos e pelos mesmos políticos poderia, de alguma forma milagrosa, resolver os problemas sociais do Brasil?
É inevitável que sociedades como a sociedade Britânica, continuarão sendo hegemônicas. E essa hegemonia não se deve ao dinheiro, mas sim as responsabilidades assumidas pelos cidadãos e pelos governos em garantir um futuro justo para todos, e não apenas para uma parte da sociedade. É de conhecimento geral que uma sociedade construída sobre uma base que sustenta apenas alguns escolhidos e exclue o restante, é uma sociedade que ruma em direção ao desastre social.
Meu filho tem acesso aqui, a tudo que uma criança poderia ter de bom. Mas nada disso é garantia absoluta de que ele jamais venha a se tornar um criminoso traficante de drogas por exemplo. Mas, quais são as chances dele em relação a uma criança Brasileira de se tornar um assassino ou traficante de drogas? Os números não mentem e a realidade é evidência. Uma coisa porem é certa, se mesmo depois de tudo que meu filho pode desfrutar durante sua infância, ainda venha a se tornar um criminoso no futuro, há uma cela esperando por ele em algum presídio escondido nos vales dos interiores do Reino Unido, porque as justificativas para uma pessoa se transformar em um traficante de drogas aqui, são praticamente inexistentes e certamente injustificáveis quando comparadas com a dramática realidade de milhões de crianças de Norte a Sul do Brasil.
A solução dos problemas sociais do Brasil não esta no policiamento extensivo, nem no governo, e muito menos na televisão. A solução dos problemas sociais do Brasil esta na garantia de acesso a saúde, segurança, esporte, oportunidades, educação e laser para todas as crianças do país sem distinção de qualquer natureza. Enquanto essa responsabilidade não for acatada por todos, enquanto cada cidadão Brasileiro não assumir suas responsabilidades com as crianças Brasileiras, podem derrubar quantos governos quiserem. Podem eleger quantos presidentes desejarem. O Brasil continuara sendo um país sub-desenvolvido, porque a negligência com nossas crianças de hoje é a garantia de um Brasil violento e sub-desenvolvido amanhã. Não há caminho milagroso que encurte o tempo e transforme pessoas em grandes cidadãos. estas ações precisam ser adotadas por todos os cidadãos indiferentes do que o governo promova. Cada criança que tenha garantida o respeito, a segurança e as oportunidades de ter uma infância saudável, significa um passo na direção de um país melhor e mais justo para todos. Quando perdemos uma criança para o crime, para as drogas e para doenças curáveis, o Brasil perde uma batalha e uma chance de crescer melhor. Essa responsabilidade não pertence a mais ninguém se não a nós mesmos. Não há outro caminho que não seja o da justiça social para todas as crianças Brasileiras sem distinção de qualquer natureza.
Finalizo estas linhas com um sentimento de peito apertado misturado a um sentimento de alívio. É muito ruim ter consciência dos problemas que o nosso país vive, sobretudo as crianças. Mas ao mesmo tempo sinto-me aliviado por ter tido a oportunidade de viver num país que cuida de suas crianças com a certeza e a responsabilidade de que estas mesmas crianças serão a garantia de uma sociedade justa e desenvolvida no futuro da sociedade que  vivo hoje. Meu maior desejo é que os Brasileiros deixem de olhar para cima na direção do governo e dos falsos líderes, e passem a olhar para baixo na direção das nossas crianças. É em nossas crianças que devemos depositar nossa fé, nossa confiança e nossos esforços para construir um Brasil melhor para todos. Saudações Fraternas!