IS IT THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR THE GIG ECONOMY?

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 26/09/17 –

London private hire drivers have won this week two major battles against two of the biggest minicab operators in a campaign to end the so called gig economy. After Uber had lost their operation licence in London, yesterday (25) was Addison Lees turn to lose a court case at a London Employment Tribunal which ruled that Addison Lee wrongly classed their drivers as self-employed. It has been a major blow for the operator and a incredible victory for drivers who have been fighting for years for better working conditions and better payment practices.

The TFL decision to refuse Ubers licence is not in any shape or form a decision against the drivers, quit the opposite. Uber drivers should celebrate this decision as it will force Uber to improve their working conditions, payment rates and terms of contract. The company will have to present Transport For London (TFL), a very good plan to tackle their bad practices in order to have their licence back, which can only means, better service for drivers and passengers. Uber don’t have to give much away in order to comply with the same rules as everyone else. Lose a market as big as London however, will be a huge blow for the business which can also lead for similar actions in other cities around the world. Personally, I don’t want Uber to go. Its undeniable that Uber offers an important service for the public, but the company must stick to the Law of the land, improve its practices and pay their drivers a decent share of the profit. Uber isn’t unique!  In the United States, there are plenty of similar operators such as Lyft.com that would be more than happy to replace Uber in London in case they fail to get their licence back. Nevertheless, I strongly doubt Uber will let London slip away.

It’s never been a more important time for private hire drivers to register to workers unions such as GMB and UPHD and help to keep the pressure on companies and regulators.

Addison Lee drivers have also a lot to celebrate this week. They made it clear they will not back off and let themselves be exploited and mistreated by greedy employers. Addison Lee drivers have fought a long way since the protests in Berkeley Square in central London, and this week the judges have recognised that Addison Lee drivers are workers and not self-employers. It is a major step forward to stop the gig economy from eroding  the bases of our society. There has been too much suffering and discontent among drivers, and for too long they have been totally ignored by operators. The tides are shifting now and professional drivers must not miss this opportunity to make lasting changes towards a safer and fairer industry.

But, none of these victories would be possible without the incredible support from our unions. Without them, it would be almost impossible for the drivers alone to fight multimillion pounds corporations in court. These corporations would most certainly continued to have their ways. But the unions were there to protect and fight for workers rights. We should be very proud and thankful for their support!

Workers must understand the importance of unions in making the justice system and the government to comply with their social responsibilities.

It is also important to understand that we cannot have a Margaret Thatcher style deregulated market, because as we know, it puts public and workers in danger of being exploited by ruthless multinational corporations. But we also cannot allow a Hugo Chaves over-regulated market, because it clearly don’t give business a fair field to operate. We must seek to find a middle ground where business are free to flourish, but the public and workers rights can at the same time, be secure and protected from abuse. London is indeed, open for business! But the message is clear, British workers will not tolerate businesses operating outside the Law. London has taken a leading position to show the world that a gig economy has no place in a fair society. Addison Lee, Uber and other companies must understand the message and accept their social responsibilities. It might not be the end of the gig economy, but it is certainly a step in that direction. London drivers will not back off!

 

 

PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS: ARE YOU FIGHTERS OR MOANERS?

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 11/01/17 –

That the Private Hire Driver industry is under attack we all know it. We also know that the continuation of such unfair, and in some cases, illegal rules and regulation policies, imposed upon drivers by some minicab operators, are unsustainable and utterly unacceptable. The question is quite simple, are we going to accept the status of a 21st century slave, or are we going to fight back? There aren’t many options I’m afraid! You either unite and put a stop to the exploitation (which you and your families are victims of), or you remain working more and more hours for ever less money (if that’s possible at all), until you drop dead or become penniless. The decision must be yours! Nothing will happen if we spend the days around Heathrow or gatwick airport complaining about how bad things are unless we are actually doing something about it. There is money out there guys! There are plenty of passengers too. What’s different now is the greedy and the aggressiveness of minicab firms policies under the wings of private equity firms management.

The arrival of UBER is undoubtedly a factor in changing the industry. But, the single biggest factor has been the arrival of Private Equity Firms and their insatiable hunger for “profit at all costs”. At our costs! The introduction of higher commission charges, rental and insurance prices, as well as changes in the point system, which used to allow hard working drivers to have weekly free car rental and insurance, was the actions of Private Equity Firms policies. I am sure we could compete and survive with UBER, just like British Airways compete and survive with Ryanair, M&S and ASDA, Debenhams and Primark. But, private equity firms unfair charges are killing us!

Professional drivers in the UK have been victims of a very aggressive and careless corporations which regards only about how much money they can make on them. They don’t care if your family is living on the streets, as long as their shareholders are happy, drivers wellbeing doesn’t matter. Their goal is to maximise their profits, even if that means bite in on drivers earnings! The only thing they care about us, is whether we can stay available for work as long as possible. Otherwise, drivers are just an inconvenience for them.

So, the same way we don’t expect to see rain in the desert, or kindness in the evil, we shouldn’t expect to see fairness and ethics in the way Private Equity Firms operates. From their point of view, drivers are just an inconvenience they have to deal with. Drivers complain about low pay, long hours of work, bad jobs, unfair charges and holidays, as if all these things were beyond reasonable workers rights. They don’t want to know our problems! They want us to shut up and work 24/7 for as minimum as possible. That’s why they are dreaming about driverless cars.

Private Equity Firms do what they are designed to do, and they are backed up by powerful legal teams that find the way around the Law. So, let’s not expect they will behave like ethical and moral institutions because they are far from that. They were design to be nasty beasts, and they will continue to be heavily driven by numbers and results. There is no human relations in the way they operate! They will continue to exploit us as much as they can, so they can get their shareholders stuffed with money to earn their fat bonuses at our expenses. They will not share the cake! We do the hard work just to be left with peanuts. That must stop! But, I remind you one thing; this situation can only go on as long as we allow it to. Without drivers, there are no minicab companies! That’s why we MUST UNITE!

Why do we allow these people to continue to exploit us without any resistance? Well, I suspect they know we will work longer if we need more money. The more we work, less likely we are to stop and protest. So, they pay us less, and we have to work more. The closer we are to become penniless, more concerned we will become about losing our jobs. Even when our jobs has become more like an occupation than a proper job, we will be afraid of losing it, because unemployment is a terrifying nightmare no one wants to go through. So, they know it, and they play the fear factor. It works! It will continue to work until drivers stop complaining, get united, and take action! It is possible to fight them back, and it is possible to win our industry back. But, are we willing to stand up side by side and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH in one single voice? Drivers, we must do it! The way these firms are operating is beyond greedy. It is criminous! We have the responsibility to stop them, for our own sake!

Social Media has been a very good tool to allow drivers to get together. But, that’s not enough. Drivers must have the help of professionals and big institutions such as GMB  and UPHD unions to fight against the evil of exploitation. If you are still not a member of a union, I urge you to go to www.gmb.org.uk  or  www.uphd.org and get yourself registered. Be protected! Unions can take big corporations head on and fight for workers rights. There are over 110 thousand professional drivers in Greater London today, and I wish all of them were a GMB or  UPHD union member. There is no way we can fight big firms without the power and the expertise of unions. We need them!

Drivers, we are the only source of revenue for minicab firms. Without us, there are no minicab companies! They must understand that and treat us the same way they treat their shareholders. Without hard working drivers, there will be no returns to shareholders’ investments. If 2015 was a bad year for professional drivers, 2016 was even worse. Let’s make 2017 the year we stop the abuse. The year we will take back control of our industry! Happy 2017!

EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS: FIRMS ARE EXPLOITING SELF-EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS. THIS MUST STOP!

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 14/08/16 –

The Court of Justice is about to expose what has been claimed to be a scandalous employment rights’ exploitation. Delivery and minicab firms throughout the UK have been accused of denying their drivers of basic working rights such as minimum wage, sick pay and holidays, by imposing self-employment contracts upon them. This would stop these companies from complying with would otherwise, be their obligations.

It became normal practice throughout this industry. Delivery and minicab drivers have been working as self-employed sub-contractors when in most cases, the atributes of their jobs are similar or equal to those stated as workers and employees. Nevertheless, Hundreds of thousands of drivers are working with little or no employment rights at all. A spokesman from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), told The Guardian newspaper last week that, “An individual’s employment status is determined by the reality of the working relationship and not the type of contract they have signed”. If that is the case, almost all minicab and delivery drivers working in the UK on the bases of a self-employment contract, should have their employment status upgraded to worker or employee. “Individuals cannot opt out of the rights they are owed, nor can an employer decide not to afford individuals those rights. Employers cannot simply opt out of the National Living Wage (NLW) by defining their staff as self-employed.” (The Guardian)

How it works

If you are looking to become a delivery/minicab driver, you will be asked with few exceptions, to sign a contract with one of many operators in the country. You will need to have a full UK driving license and a PCO license (if you want to carry passengers). You will then, be given a van, a motorbike or a car, depending on the type of the job you are signing up for. It works on a rental contract. A XDA or PDA will also be provided so you can receive details of jobs you are going to do. You will also be given uniform, ID badge and a call sign. Once you are ready to go, you will receive jobs, but only from the company you have signed up for. You are not allowed to work for anybody else. Do it privately or pick up a passenger without pre-booking and you will be breaking the Law. As a private hire driver, you are only allowed to pickup passengers with pre-bookings. Your company (not you), will decide which driver will get a particular job as well as, how much you will be paid for it. Unless you are a car owner, you will be using a company car, usually with the company logo on it, an uniform and equipment. They will have total control over how many jobs and how much they will pay you every day. Your responsibility is to be available for work as long as possible. You are required to work at least 12 hours a day. The courier company charge a commission fee on each job you do which can be up to 60%, plus car rental and insurance. Any damage to the car or equipment and you will be charged for it. You also have to pay for any traffic related incidents like penalty charges, punctured tyres, broken windscreen, windows and fuel. All time lost on repairs, services and recovery, are at your cost. You are not entitle to receive sick pay, overtime, or holiday.

You have to log in to the company’s system at the start of your shift and wait for the first job to come in. Once you have a job, you must do it, although, some companies allow up to 25 seconds on ASAP jobs for the driver to accept or refuse it. However, refusing a job can put you in serious trouble with the company, and if you keep refusing jobs you will be made inactive. So for instance, if you live in Richmond and you are in central London waiting for a job towards home after your 12 hour shift and you are given a job going to Stansted, you are expected to do it, even if you have to drive 30 miles empty back home.

In most cases, the first job is quickly allocated, but during half-terms and school holidays it can take up to an hour. During summer, specially during July and August, some drivers might work 12 hours shift and do as little as 3 or 4 jobs. The costs on insurance and rent remains the same throughout the year. January is also a very quite month. During these periods, a van and minicab driver, working 12 hours a day, six days a week might get up to £450 pounds before costs. Costs are usually: Rent: £100/170 pounds; Insurance: £55/70 pounds; fuel: £100 pounds and Tax. That is per week, considering you have no traffic related incidents. It is not unusual to see drivers working on a loss during down periods. Even during pick times it is getting harder and harder for drivers to breakeven. This is where companies benefit from self-employment contracts, as they have no obligations such as sick pay, holiday and minimum wage towards their drivers. Drivers on the other hand, have no rights and have to bare all the costs. Companies can also hire as many drivers as they please as they have no added costs in doing so. It increases availability and consequently  increases their revenue. However, for the drivers it means more competition, less jobs and consequently less revenue. The car rent paid by the drivers usually pays all the costs the company would have with the car, and that’s including the leasing contracts. At the end of the leasing contract the company will have a car which can be sold for a clean profit. The drivers that actually paid the lease by paying car rental every week, gets nothing in return.

After the introduction of UBER in 2013, and the arrival of private equity firms to control many of the big companies, job prices are going down to attract more costumers. They are also charging more from drivers to work for them. Lowering the prices is a good thing to attract more costumers, but in some cases drivers are paying the full cost of these changes while companies will not lose any revenue by lowering prices. Some companies for instance, are giving up to 30% discount to passengers during off pick, but this 30% discount is entirely paid by the driver. Commission are also up. Cash jobs used to be commission free. Now there is a 20% commission on it. In many cases the driver has a 50% cut on his payment at the start of a job, and that’s even before they pay for car rent, insurance and fuel. In these cases, drivers will be left with almost nothing at the end of the job. There are many cases where after 70 to 80 hour worth of driving in a week, your average payment can be as little as £4 pounds per hour, much lower than the legal minimum wage. Anyone earning £4 pounds a hour in London will be fighting to survive. So for example: on a cash job from SW1 London to Heathrow, the  driver used to be paid an average of £70 pounds. Today, the driver has to pay 20% commission to the company he/she works for, plus 30% discount given by the company and charged from the driver. That means, the driver will now be paid £35 pounds before car rent, insurance, Fuel and tax, if there is no traffic related incidents. At the end of the job you will be left with as little as £10 pounds. But, this is not all. Once you drop off a passenger at the airport, you can either drive back to central London empty, or wait for a job at the airport which can take at least 2 hours as you are placed in a queue system. Either way, the driver will lose money by driving back to town empty, or waste at least 2 hours waiting for another job at the airport. It became a no win situation made worse by a self-employment contract that gives little or no rights to drivers and no obligations from the company you work for.

What we have noticed as result of these new corporate strategies, is that companies are increasing their revenue while drivers (the only source of revenue for most of courier companies) are experiencing a sharp drop of up to 50% on their earnings. In the other hand, to keep their heads above the water, drivers have been forced to work longer hours, which in return, increases availability and improve even more the company’s results. There are many reports of drivers working over 100 hours a week  just to make ends meet. It is utterly unfair and extremely dangerous for everybody including costumers.

Big courier companies have been able to get away with it for years, but now it seems drivers had enough. There are countless court cases against courier and minicab companies going through the courts at the moment. If the Courts decide these drivers should be treated as workers or employees, companies throughout the country will have to pay compensation as well as upgrade their drivers status from self-employed to workers status. That means they will have to pay the same rights as any worker should have in the first place. It will change the industry as a whole and stop companies from abuse the system for their own benefit. The future of thousands of families throughout the UK are depending on how the Courts will rule these cases. If justice is to be above money, drivers must have some money back and the culture of abuse should stop immediately. Justice must be done for professional drivers.

 

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/aug/14/deliveroo-told-it-must-pay-workers-minimum-wage?CMP=twt_gu

 

JEREMY CORBYN AND THE MADNESS OF POLITICS

BY: Michaell Lange,

London, 29/07/16 –

The British referendum on the membership of the European Union has revealed the state of political madness in which Britain has found itself with. That’s not to mention the state of politics in countries on the other side of the spectrum such as Brazil, Turkey and Russia and obviously, the most weird of all, the United States of America. It shows that across the globe, regardless of political ideology, neither socialists, liberals, conservatives, democrats or republicans, have been able to address the concerns of the people they represent. The concept of democracy seems to have been reshaped into a bizarre and dangerous form of self-imposed nationalism that is pulling the world apart. It’s dangerously creating devisions between countries and deeply dividing people around the world. Although the global economy and financial markets are permanently fused and interdependent, social globalisation seems to have reached its limits and appear to be starting to break up. Is the world tired of integration? Or, is it a result of a combination of extremely incompetent governments, unscrupulous global financial market activities and the mainstream media 24/7 news? For some reason, yet to be explained by political theorists and scientists, the world seems to be moving backwards. Economic and social unrests like the ones from the 60s, appear to be on the rise again. Wars and violence are plaguing countries in central and North Africa as well as in the Middle East causing an exodus of biblical proportion. Generations of young people in Europe and North America are leaving universities with tens of thousands of pounds in debts. Lack of opportunities and the housing crises, are creating a generation of tenants which will never be able to buy their own houses. Some people claim it’s the end of Capitalism as we know it, but if it’s, what’s next?

Despite strong denial from politicians and the main stream media, Britain is in a mess, and so is most of the rest of the world. Yesterday, three different British news papers brought three different news about the economy. “UK economy begins to feel Brexit tremors” said The Guardian. On Daily Express the headline was; “No Stopping Booming Britain”. On Financial Times it said; “FTSE 250 rebounds from referendum”. On the same time, Lloyds Bank Group says it will cut 3000 more jobs and close a father 200 branches as the bank of England gets ready for possible negative interest rates; and we haven’t even triggered article 50 yet. For the Brexiteers from parliament, everything is rosy. The economy is “booming”, The weather is good, we have taken back control. It’s almost as if they were on LSD. Nevertheless, people continue to believe what they are told by our governments. “Everything is fine and everything is going to be alright” they say; when in reality, it’s clearly not fine and not alright. Why do we continue to believe in politicians? Is it just because they look good and trustworthy even when they are clearly not? Boris Johnson lied on his wedding day! A man who cheated on his wife, and lied to the nation about the £350 million Pounds for the NHS, and people continue to love him and trust him to be the Prime Minister. How can it be possible? Even Tony Blair after the revelations of the Iraq inquiry, still beloved and respected by so many. Is Hollywood to blame for our concept of bad guys that always look badly dressed, with rough beards and ugly faces, while the good boys are always beautiful and handsome? Don’t Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi fall perfectly into that description of bad guys while George W Bush and Tony Blair are the perfect examples of the good boys, even though the real difference between them are mostly, the number of innocent people they have killed? Does it explain why the two “bad” boys are dead and the other two will never face trail for their crimes?

The Brexit, as well as the worsening social crisis regarding housing, the NHS and job opportunities for young people, are sending a clear message that social unrests like those of 2011, might be just around the corner. The heinous situation of thousands of workers trapped on self-employment contracts with zero employment rights, working incredibly long hours for less than the minimum wage, is pushing society to a breaking point. For the first time in history, the new generation will be worse off than their parents’. There are countless cases of big companies exploiting their workers by paying less than the minimum wage and in inhumane working conditions. Sports Direct, Hermes, Addison Lee, E-Courier, BHS and Uber, are just a few examples of companies either in court or already found to be operating on the margins of the Law and way below their social and moral obligations. All of these has been going on under the nose of the government and with the bless of many politicians. In fact, they are allowing big corporations to ship billions of pounds of untaxed revenue out of the country, leaving behind a trail of misery, and they continually get away with it. How can such immoral and unpatriotic behaviour be allowed to happen?

Jeremy Corbyn is a British politician that is trying to do something about this mess. He is against big corporations declaring their profits somewhere abroad when their profits were made here in Britain. He is against pensioners, nurses, junior doctors, the police, the fire-fighters, the NHS and ordinary workers, to pay for the losses of billions of pounds of tax payers money caused by Bankers. He is against the government spending hundreds of billions of pounds in weapons we will never use. He is against big corporations interference in government affairs, and he is against theatrical politics like the PMQs where comedy seems to be more important than the concerns of the British people.

Mr Corbyn might not be the next British Prime Minister. People in power don’t want to lose their good lives so, they will not let go without a fight. They claim he is not the person with the leadership or the best ability do deliver the changes we so desperately need to see on British politics. So, who is? Blair? Cameron? It’s just hard for anyone to judge whether he would or wouldn’t be a good Prime Minister just like is hard to say if Mrs May will. We have had a number of Prime Ministers and Presidents around the world highly “prepared” to do a good job, but ended in failure. Tony Blair maybe one of the best (or should I say the worst?) examples. He was young, fit, good looking, ambitious, educated and overall, well prepared to be an excellent Prime Minister. Nevertheless, he allowed his personal ambitions to take over his responsibilities and ended up being a war criminal and co-responsible for a genocide in Iraq. In the 70s, the conservatives thought Margaret Thatcher would be a disaster for the country, but she made history as the Iron lady.

Jeremy Corbyns ideas might be just what Britain needs in order to clean up this country from political and financial greedy which has taken over the economy and has ruined ordinary people’s lives. Politics cannot be treated like comedy. In fact, use comedy in politics in the way it’s been done, is an offense for millions of British people struggling to pay their bills. We have a parliament full of clowns and Jeremy Corbyn is a threat to the comedy show. Since Corbyn was elected by a huge majority of labour voters to be the leader of the Labour Party, he made clear he wants to change the way we do politics in Britain, and it seems to be causing a lot of fuss in and around the Commons hence all the rhetorics, abuses, bulling and attacks he has been suffering. If he will never be a Prime Minister as claimed by the conservatives and many labour MPs, why they are so worried about him?

It’s bizarre to say the least, to see Mr Corbyn making a very important question concerning millions of Britons across the country and instead of answering the question, the Prime Minister chose to tell a joke about the Labour Party or about Mr Corbyn itself. Then everybody laughs, the question is forgotten, no answer is given, and they move on for the next question. Mr Corbyn then, make another important question that concerns the nation only to be ignored again by the Prime Minister who will tell another joke to entertain her friends and the media instead of giving a proper answer for the question asked. It has been like this for decades, if not ever since we have a Parliament. Despite the fact she was not elected yet, how committed is the Prime Minister to the people she’s supposed to represent? The main stream media classify these politics of jokes as a “great performance”, a “victory for the Prime Minister”. Iain Dale, a presenter of a daily show at LBC Radio, almost had an orgasm on air after Theresa May had ignored Mr Corbyn questions to instead, abuse and bully him all the way to the end of her first Prime Minister Questions. No questions asked about the lack of proper question and answer as PMQs supposed be in the first place. PMQs are not a competition to see who makes the best joke! It’s absurd! We continue to accept and approve this kind of behaviour from a Prime Minister. It’s a culture that needs to change. Mr Corbyn has been elected leader of the Labour Party to do just that, and he is under attack from all sides including his own Party MPs. His fight resembles the problems with gun control laws in America. Every time someone stands to make it harder for people to by heavy weapons, they got attacked from all sides even when statistics show thousands of innocent people are losing their lives to gun violence every year in that country. The parallel to Mr Corbyn’s fight is true. When he tries to change a culture that is hurting this country so badly he got attacked with no mercy by those benefiting from the establishment he’s fighting against. Those at the top do not want to change. They like it the way it is whatever what people think.

Whatever’s the Prime Minister, Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, John Major or the almighty Margaret Thatcher, they all played the same game that benefits the same people over and over and over. Laughter at the parliament seems to be more important than the country itself, and they always get away with it. The Prime Minister questions are unfortunately, a popular comedy show. It is not too far from “Live at the Apollo”. They play comedy with the future of this country. They play comedy with the future of British people, and they do it because they have been praised for it by the us. It must stop! British people deserve to be heard and to be taken seriously by those elected to represent them. But, for that to happen, we need to stop praising politicians for being funny and cool. Mr Corbyn in the other hand, despite the mockery, the bully and abuse coming from the conservative bench, always keep his calm and keep on asking important questions without falling for despicable provocation. The others are happy to go on national TV after the comedy show to say, without any shame, that Theresa May destroyed Mr Corbyn on PMQs. I think they let the country down again.

Despite all the claims that Mr Corbyn lacks the abilities and the leadership to implement the important changes in our political culture, one thing is certain; most of Mr Corbyn opposition comes from politicians whom don’t want to lose their privileges and are afraid that Mr Corbyn will put an end to these privileges they enjoy today.

I am not sure whether Jeremy Corbyn would be a good Prime Minister, right now I would doubt, but who knows? One can only speculate. Looking back to the last two elected Prime Ministers we had; one, has taken this country to an illegal war that caused a genocide in Iraq, and made the whole world less safe; The second, has taken Britain out of the European Union and risks to be forever remembered for breaking-up the United kingdom as well as the EU. Watching how the media and the establishment hate Mr Corbyn, I can only think; This man might deserve a chance.

BRITISH REFERENDUM ON THE EUROPEAN UNION (OPINION)

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 10/06/16 –

 

Yesterday I posted my vote on the British Referendum on European Union. Like many of us I was confused and extremely disappointed by the way both sides of the campaign have been conducting their arguments to the public. It is no surprise that the trust on politicians is so low. The fact is, we cannot trust them! So I decided to do my own research and make a decision based on my feelings and experience. I have a degree in International Relations and Politics and this helped me to separate the truth from the false, at least as far as my eyes can see.

The first thing I have done was to go back to the bases of the European Union. What was the main reason for Europe to unite and create such a huge and complicated institution that we know today as The European Union? How did we get to the point we are today and what would be the real arguments to remain or to leave the EU? Is it better in or out?

There is no easy answer for the referendum question, but we can work out how interests are dividing businesses, political parties and the people of Britain. How interests are played out to the public by the media, and for whose interests? My suggestion is: Don’t trust politicians and the media. Trust your own feelings and make sure your decision will not come back to bite you. You maybe going to find a conclusion complete the opposite of mine, but that’s the beauty of democracy . After all, it will be your conclusion, your decision and not a third part decision based on third part interests sold to you cheaply. Do not sell your conclusion!

Like most of you, I am also worried. I am worried about the future of this country and about the future of my family. I also think we are all missing the point here. Most of the campaign on both sides are spending too much time on the economy and immigration issues when in my eyes these issues are not totally dependent on whether we are in or out of the European Union. In fact, China and the United States are the two main concerns regarding the state of the economy in the entire world including Europe and Britain. What they do and don’t can bring the whole system into crisis. Even the Euro Zone crisis was not caused just by the pit falls of the European Union, it came from abroad with no boarders or regulations being able to stop it. Immigration is also linked to international forces we can’t always control. The Euro Zone crisis brought a lot of Europeans with free movement into this country, that’s a fact. But wouldn’t they come anyway if we were out of the EU? Of course they would! People have moved around the globe for thousands of years and for thousands of reasons. The only difference is that the people working here legally today would be here otherwise illegally, but they would probably be here any way just as much as they are in the US and Germany because these countries are doing better. Leave the EU might double the number of illegal immigrants living in Britain, but it’s still just a possibility. In addition, there are thousands of Chinese, Indians, Africans, South Americans, Australians, Russians, Americans and people from all over the world living in Britain today, legally or illegally and none of them are part of the European Union. So, who would be there to stop the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French, and the Italians? Can we blame the immigration issue on the EU only?

An economic disaster in the Euro Zone would probably see levels of mass migration from Europe into Britain similar to those seen from Syria into Europe today, and this is regardless of whether Britain is in or out of the EU. When people feel threaten they move to a safer place whatever and wherever it is. So as long as the world is balanced and people are not forced out of their lands by bombs and famine, mass migration can be avoided. Britain is a vital player in maintaining this balance in the EU as well as throughout of the world. Whether we can play this role better in or out of the EU is a question we all must ask ourselves before voting on the referendum in just 10 days time. Building walls, closing boarders, sending the army or any other radical method offered by radicals today, have been tried before by old radicals and failed, and they will continue to fail until governments realise that it’s impossible to stop millions of people from fleeing wars to save their lives. It would be a crime against humanity anyway. The point here is that neither immigration nor the economy can be totally controlled by our government. Another important point to take into consideration is this: Some of our Laws and regulations are made by Brussels, but how better our government would do? The Liberals said they would not touch the University fees. The Labours wanted to tax our houses, and the Conservatives, well, the Conservatives said they would lead Turkey into the EU, and now they say otherwise.

The media claims the Conservative party is divided. Well, in my view their strategy is a win-win situation. If we vote out, David Cameron will step down and give way to Mr Boris Johnson. If we remain in the EU, David Cameron was always right. How would  Tories lose it? On the other hand, the Labour Party and the Liberals find themselves working for the Tories whatever way you look at it.

For us, the people, the problems with politics are the same. They lie just as much as they need to convince us to believe them. We should question what our politicians are doing with the power they already have. Are they doing a good job? Can we trust them? If you have any doubt, ask this question to Fire Fighters, Junior Doctors, Teachers, Tube Drivers, Black Cab Drivers, TATA Steel workers, University students, Disable people, the elderly, the soldiers. Ask them if we can trust our politicians and listen to what they have to say.   So why should I listen to politicians’ claims that we are losing sovereignty and decision making powers when they are unable to prove they can do a better job with the power they already have in their hands? They can’t blame everything on Europe all the time.

However, my main concern in leaving the EU is Peace. Peace in Europe is the bases of everything else in the lives of Europeans. Without Peace, there is no economy, no growth, no jobs, no integration, no holidays in Spain and Portugal, and no immigration control. Peace was the main reason behind the creation of the EU, and that idea stands firm today. Nazis and fascist groups are still strongly operating underground all over Europe including here in Britain. The way the EU stands today would be almost impossible for these radical groups to rise to power and cause another war in Europe, it’s been successful in that task for more than 70 years.  However, if the EU collapses as a result of Brexit (British Exit), the idea of 27 countries in Europe going their own ways, facing economic depression and unemployment, it would certainly create the perfect storm for such groups to rise up to power again. Russia would be looking to Europe with a lot of interests. We already know the consequences of this recipe. Who can guarantee that the British exit will not create such catastrophic situation? I prefer to believe in possibilities than just blindly believe in what I wish for the future, and the EU meltdown is a real possibility.

The reality is that, if I had a couple of million pounds invested in the EU, with the Brexit looming ahead, I would be very concerned about the future of my investments. I would be looking for a safer place to keep my money until the uncertainty goes away. It is almost certain that the price of gold will rise sharply just before the referendum, like after 9/11. People always tend to find a safer place for their money during difficult times. Thus, if every investor feels afraid of losing their investments, they will move away from the Euro zone causing the collapse of the Euro and a chain reaction with disastrous consequences. Of course it would be the worst case scenario, but who can guarantee it will not happened? I also like to start any analysis from the worst case scenario.  Personally, I believe that Britain would be probably better off out of the EU. Nevertheless, it’s the consequences of the exit, and how these consequences may affect the whole EU structure and eventually the balance of Peace, that concerns me the most.

Even if we leave the EU we will still need to change the way the EU operates because right now, it is not functioning the way it should. When the EU does not functions well our economy is affected. Be part of the decision making is vital to push for changes. Isolation in the 21st century is as ludicrous as the Trump Wall. The economy and the rest of the world are pretty much working as one single unity, and I believe Britain cannot have more control of its economy just by leaving the EU. The TATA Steel saga is one big evidence of that. Decisions about the future of thousands of British steel workers were decided in India. The decision of Arab countries to force the price of oil down in the past years caused thousands of job losses in Scotland. Be out of the EU would have made no difference in these cases. It seems to me that if we leave the EU, the concerns we have today such as immigration and the state of the economy, will continue to exist, but then there will be no turning back.

It is widely known that the older generation of Britain is more Europe skeptical and therefore, more likely to vote leave. My concern is this: My son is three and half years old and his generation is more likely to live the full consequences of the decisions made by the older generation today. Are we taking the future and the wishes of the young Brits into consideration when deciding whether to vote to remain or to leave the EU? or, are we thinking so selfishly and only taking into account what we feel about Europe today? The young Brits are most likely to vote to remain, so isn’t it the case for the old Brits to think and listen to the wishes of the young people about where they want Britain to be in the future? Some of the old people of Britain thinking about vote leave will see very little of how their votes will affect the future generations. My son is more likely to live the consequences of a Brexit his entire life. I decided to vote for the young people. I decided to vote for my son. I decided to vote for Peace in Europe. I decided to vote to remain. Good Luck Britain!

DAVID VERSUS GOLIATH IN A BATTLE FOR THE FUTURE OF ADDISON LEE

A master piece by: Mark Morahan

London, 26/05/16 –
David versus Goliath in a battle for the future of Addison Lee.

This is no Fairy Tale!
The ‘Goliath’ a $178 billion organisation called Carlyle Group versus ‘David’ a bunch of London minicab drivers from Addison Lee earning £6 per hour and now forced to work 60 to 80 hours per week to make ends meet. No contest you would think but read on and you may be surprised.
Our story starts back in 2013 when Goliath purchased Addison Lee from the wilily old founder John Griffin for £300 million. Goliath congratulated himself that he had taken Irishman Griffin ‘to the cleaners’ by getting the company for a knock down price. Goliath licked his lips as he thought of all that profit he would make by selling the company for $800 million. Griffin, to his credit, bore Goliath no ill will for being persuaded to sell his company so cheaply. He accepted he was only a simple cab driver and no match for expensively suited high finance Goliath executives.
What is now certain that Goliath, who was much too big to travel in normal cars and needed a chauffeured Mercedes, had never heard of ‘Uber’. The rest of the private equity community laughed with glee as Goliath discovered that this was not the best time to be selling a cab company. Goliath spat with fury as he was forced to cancel the sale.
The good people at Addison Lee kept on working hard, providing a great service and grew the business by 7%. That was not good enough for the very hungry Goliath who wanted money, big money, otherwise his investors would get annoyed. Goliath pushed open the doors of Addison Lee and announced that he would now be running things. We all know that Goliath did not become the biggest in the land by being stupid, he could smell where the money was but how could he get his hands on it? Thinking for a while he came up with a simple but brilliant plan ‘let’s increase the charges to the drivers’. Up went the weekly car rental and commission taken on every job. This stroke of genius was a fabulous success and £25 million that would have been paid to the 4,000 drivers, was to be put too much better use, shareholder dividends. Goliath sat back smugly, knowing that his investors would be yet again be kneeling in front of him paying homage to his brilliance.
Understandably the drivers were a little upset at having to work longer and longer hours to try to cover the bare essentials of living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. They pleaded ‘we have given loyal service, we love this company and now were earning less than the minimum wage, that is not right’. Goliath laughed and said ‘you’re all on self-employed contracts so you have no rights. If you don’t like it leave’.
Many drivers, with tears in their eyes, did leave the place they loved. Others scared by the size of Goliath hid away but one driver called David dared to challenge the Goliath by saying ‘this is our company, we helped build it and are proud to work here, you have no right to be destroying it.” Summoning all his courage, David then shouted ‘IT IS YOU WHO SHOULD LEAVE’ Now Goliath got very annoyed grabbed David, pulled his car keys away so he could not escape in his Galaxy and threw him violently into the dungeon called unemployment. ‘That what’s happens to anybody who challenges me’ roared Goliath with such ferocity that all the other drivers ran for cover in case they too were locked in the damp dark dungeon and would not be able to feed their families.

But then a strange thing happened, the little drivers looked at each other and knew they had to rescue David. They were very frightened but as they looked around their courage grew for they knew they had right on their side. More and more came out from hiding and were soon joined by staff from the offices who cheered the little drivers on. Soon Goliath was surrounded in the boardroom of Addison Lee. The drivers and staff said as one ‘We have come to take our company back’. Goliath roared with laughter and then thundered ‘Get back to work, it is I which owns this company’. He was so loud that he could be heard all the way to the garage in Stanhope Street where the unused Galaxies and Prius crashed into each as the roar of anger reverberated around its concrete walls.
But still the drivers did not move and as Goliath caught one to throw them into the dungeon the other drivers and staff wrestled him back. Soon Goliath started to tire and he knew that he could not win. The drivers and staff cheered as they threw Goliath out the front door banished to Berkley Square where his angry investors lay in wait for him.
The good people at Addison Lee were happy to go to work and cheered as they were once again voted the best minicab company in the country.
The drivers and staff of Addison Lee are shouting loud and clear, ‘Carlyle, we want our company back’. What’s not a fairy tale is that Carlyle cannot win this battle. Its management style is arrogant and straight from the 19th century. Sacking people for demonstrating because they have had their income forcibly reduced, is not acceptable in this country.
The assets of Addison Lee are not the cars, vans, offices or computers, it is the people. Without them the company is valueless. It is the professionalism of drivers and staff which keeps our accounts happy. Who owns the shares has no bearing when contracts are renewed.
The reality is that Carlyle wish to sell Addison Lee. That will only happen if the staff and drivers cooperate. No purchaser will ever buy Addison Lee in the condition it is now.
A formal notice will soon be served on Carlyle which will legally oblige them to inform any potential purchasers that the drivers and staff will not tolerate being owned by any organisation which does not put the interests of all stakeholders (staff, drivers and shareholders) at the forefront of its strategy.
Without co-operation Carlyle would have to give the company away for virtually nothing. For assisting the sale of Addison Lee the staff and drivers will be rewarded with 25% of the shareholding which will be is to be divided equally between all staff and drivers.
If Carlyle do not accept those conditions, the staff and drivers of Addison Lee will do everything in its power to confront Carlyle to counter its dictatorial attitude and total disregard for peoples basic human rights.
They will not win.

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!