LETTER TO ADDISON LEE’S DRIVERS

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 25/05/16 –

I just woke up feeling the hungover from yesterday’s (24) events. It was a long and tense day. I woke up at 4am as usual, for a 5am pick up and worked until 9:30 when I logged off and made my way to Regent’s Park where we gathered for the demonstration before driving down to Berkeley Square for a 12 noon protest outside Carlyle Group’s office. The atmosphere was great. It is good to see when people get united for a common cause, and I was feeling really proud to be part of that. Some of the drivers were applauding the drivers arriving at the gathering point. These are brave men and women I respect dearly!

At Berkeley Square everything was going accordingly to the plan. No violence, no threats or insulting shouting but instead, a loud and clear message that we are not happy with the way our beloved company Addison Lee has been managed by Carlyle Group. Everybody behaved in a proper manner. I was vigilant to any signs of trouble, but there weren’t any. From Berkeley Square we drove down to Parliament Square via Trafalgar Square. The protest at Parliament Square was mostly silence and lasted for about 20 minutes before we dispersed. Some drivers did sound their car’s horn before being advised not to do so. Although, it was nothing like the protest at Berkeley Sq. Some of the noise was actually coming from other vehicles either supporting us or complaining about us. Otherwise it was completely silent.

After the protests each driver went their own way, but things were about to turn nasty. I received a call from the driver’s liaison asking me to go to the office. I went to the representatives group on Telegram just to find out that two other representatives had also been called in. However one of our Reps have been allegedly told by Addlee officials that Addison Lee’s CEO were waiting to talk to us, so I felt optimistic about it.  Once we got to the office it felt like they were all over the place. It did look chaotic and those supposed to talk to us were clearly distressed. The atmosphere was so tense that I was still feeling sick the morning after. It was clear that the second demonstration struck the core of Addison Lee/Carlyle management. Incredibly, it was still not enough to make them willing to talk to us. Instead, they have done the last thing any serious and ethical company would ever do.

Since the beginning of this movement, I was totally aware that this struggle was going to get nasty. And yesterday it did. I cannot express more how proud I am for those who conquered their fears yesterday and came to the demonstration at Berkeley Sq to pacifically protest against what in my view, is an huge injustice and an attack against our values and pride we always had of Addison Lee.

After the demonstration yesterday, Carlyle/Addison Lee high management started what they think is the solution for the drivers revolt. One by one, representatives and other drivers, allegedly blacked-listed by the company for highlighting the unfairness of their activities, were unfairly targeted and sacked by Addison Lee. No previous contact were made, neither to negotiate or to resolve the dispute. No warnings or talks, just a direct and unjustifiable sack! It was in my view, a clear display of a centuries old tactic of beating people up into submission. But the world has moved away from those dark periods. Now, in the 21st century, some hedge funds and big corporations are using the same tactics to bring people, governments and in many cases, entire countries into submission. What they haven’t realised yet is that like during colonialism, those tactics failed and they will continue to fail today. Mahatma Gandhi, probably the biggest symbol of that resistance once said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”.

My fellow drivers, we have been through the phases where we have been ignored by them and laughed at by them. Now they are fighting us, and as Gandhi once said, now we will win it! We can’t ignore this fight! Like in any battle, those at the front line will be the first to be shot at, but these front liners should inspire others who will take their places, and the battle will continue to rage until a fair solution can be achieved. Me, together with some other fellow drivers were shot at yesterday. But we are still alive because in this battle they cannot kill us. Not even silence us. Fear is a human being thing I understand. I feel fear too. Like many of you, I have a family to provide for. But we cannot allow fear to take control of our lives and make us run away from those responsible for all this misery. They must be stopped! We must stand the ground and fight against this injustice. My family and your family deserve better! Addison Lee deserves better! Remember that we, the drivers, are the real Addison Lee! Those at the high management are just investors looking for their returns, which I also understand and it isn’t wrong. Let’s be clear here, we want people to invest in Addison Lee and maximise their return as much as possible. We want Addison Lee to be successful! What we reject is the idea that we have to pay for all the cost of those investments. We are happy to see investors interested in our company, but they also need to understand that without drivers, there is no return for their investments!

We should continue to be proud to work for Addison Lee as we should continue to offer our customers the best minicab service in the UK. However, we must fight off any potential investor who only see importance in their own return. Investors like Carlyle Group are destroying our brand and our livelihood for the benefit of themselves and we will not tolerate this kind of behaviour. We will continue to challenge Carlyle management until they return our money. They should know by now that the only way they can get their investment back, is by given back the money taken from Addison Lee drivers. If they continue to refuse to sit down and negotiate, I feel sorry for their shareholders because there will be no returns from their investments, there will be only losses. Moreover, Carlyle’s reputation is well on the line here, and that should be another good reason for them to resolve these problem as quick and wisely as possible. So far, Carlyle Group has shown a complete lack of such virtues. It is very unfortunate that we have to come this low and yet be refused access to Carlyle management. Let’s be clear, there is no other way, and there is no way back from here.

Best Regards!

 

 

NOT HAPPY? TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 11/05/16 –

They say: If you are not happy, just leave it. Find another job! But I say, not quite! 

You probably have heard that rubbish frase at some point in the past year or so. I had the unpleasant experience to hear that from a fellow worker suffering from the same unfair cuts that we are all going through. But, I try not to get upset by these comments. However, they do make me think a lot about why someone in the same situation as I am can say something so silly as this. I understand that everybody have their own priorities and ways of thinking, and many others just don’t understand what is really going on. If everybody could have a clear picture of what Carlyle Group is doing to Addison Lee drivers, I am sure that every single driver would be rebelling right now. But there is a careless factor in saying “take it or leave it”. It’s almost a statement of ignorance or even worse, a statement of complete disrespect to people. It goes beyond egoism and misunderstanding about the world we are living in.

When you say, take it or leave it, you are basically, speaking only and directly to one person, missing the point and the bigger picture by a mile. It does not solve any problem, it only creates more resentment. My question is: What about the rest of us? What about the other three thousand fellow drivers? Or even, what about the other hundreds of thousands of people suffering deep cuts in their incomes? I wonder if there is any legitimacy or any sense at all in saying, take it or leave it. What if all underpaid drivers, cleaners, washing-ups, cashiers, waiters, labours, chefs, helpers, and all other unskilled workers follow the idea of “take it or leave it” and decide to leave it? Firstly, where would they go to? Secondly, how would society function without these vital services? So, if you like to say, take or leave it, you are either a complete reckless individual or you haven’t got a clue of what you are talking about. If you fall on the second category, there is hope. Differently from what many people think, I believe that in many cases ignorance is an alibi. If you don’t know what you are doing, at least you should have some form of diminished responsibility, at least in some cases such as the one we are talking about now. In one way or the other it is, in my view, unjustifiable.

Another thing I would like to say to those people exercising their full rights to talk nonsense, is this: If I leave, where would I go? Is there an alternative? Is it take it or leave it a real choice? Or is this term used only to highlight the fact that between the two apparent choices, only one is really reasonable? Of course that if you are in a sinking boat and all other boats around you are also sinking, the only reasonable option you have is to stay where you are and try to save the boat you are in. The water isn’t really an option is it? So, why do some people on the same sinking boat as you, are criticising you for trying to save it, which inevitably would save them too? If the boat is going down, what is stoping you from helping those who are trying to save it?

My fellow Addison Lee drivers, I understand the power of fear and intimidation. Even when fear means fear of losing something you don’t really have. After all, if you work 60 hours plus, a week and at the end of each month you can’t even pay your bills, do you really have a job? Or is it just an occupation? The fact that matters to me the most in all of this mass caused by Carlyle Group, putting all of us through such financial pressure is this: We make all the money and Carlyle Group are telling us how much we can keep, which right now is something very close to nothing! How can we possibly accept that?

For me, it’s simple. I will not take it, and I will not leave it! I will stay and fight to the end to save this boat and everyone else on board, including all women and children! But I will not be able to do it by myself. I need your help. We, the Addison Lee Drivers United, need your help! Remember, a lot of people thought Titanic was unsinkable. I try to learn from history. I know that Titanic would never had sunk if the captain of that incredible ship had his passengers at heart instead of just try to break speed records in an area full of icebergs. We are the Addison Lee passengers and Carlyle Group, is unfortunately the captain of this ship, and our captain has no regards for its passengers. The only thing that matters to our captain is record breaking just like the captain of Titanic. Ladies and gentlemen, our ship will probably have the same fate of that of Titanic unless we combine forces to save it. It is a matter of time and therefore, we must stop our captain Carlyle from steer our ship recklessly towards the rocks. I remember some other famous shipwrecks. I was on board one of them recently. It was called Lewis Day plc. It was big, but it went down very fast. Another famous shipwreck was the City Link. This ship was also big and went down on Christmas day 2014 with everyone on board. Are we prepared to let our ship Addison Lee goes down like those ones, or are we prepared to fight Carlyle Group and stop them from throwing our ship to the bottom of the sea? We must decide it now! We have no time to waist and not much time to think. If you are still not involved with those already fighting to save our boat, you should seriously consider joining in as quick as possible. Don’t be careless! Don’t be afraid to fight for dignity and fairness! If we don’t fight back we will have to keep listening to those people telling us over and over again that rhetorical and nevertheless upsetting frase: “take it or leave it”. I’m not going to take that!

We are making every single penny of those hundreds of millions of pounds of Addison Lee profits every year while those responsible for making all the money are left with peanuts. When we complain they say; Take it or leave it. We are paying all the costs of our job including the costs of running the company while they are left with all the profits. But if we complain, they say: take it or leave it. We are taking all the stress and the long hours on the busy streets of London while they enjoy the honey, and when we complain they say: take it or leave it. We work allegedly like employees under a self-employment contract with no workers rights whatsoever, but they say: take it or leave it. Well, its time to make it clear to Carlyle Group that we, the Addison Lee Drivers United will neither take it nor leave it. We will stay and fight for our jobs and for those allegedly £25 million pounds taken from the drivers earnings in the past year alone so Carlyle Group can make Addison Lee’s numbers looking good for potential buyers. We will not take it or leave it! We will stay and show that Carlyle Group has no right to push thousands of Addison Lee families into poverty just to make their numbers and results looking a bit better. We will not take it! We will fight it and we will win it! If you are out there somewhere in fear, get up now and join this fight. Our fight!