Sheffield taxi drivers protest over Veezu commission changes

  • Video report by Martin Fisher

Angry taxi drivers have protested outside the offices of a booking firm over new terms which they say will hit their income.

Drivers who work for Veezu in Sheffield and Rotherham gathered to voice their anger at a decision to decrease fares and increase the portion of fares it takes.

The company bought out Sheffield's City Taxis, which had more than 2,000 drivers on its books, at the beginning of last year.

Drivers say the amount they will have to hand over in commission is now set to increase from 20% to 35%.

Mujahid Hussain, who has been a taxi driver for over 10 years, said it would push drivers facing a cost-of-living crisis into financial hardship.

He claimed the impact of the new commission rate combined with the costs of running a taxi means they will take home less than the minimum wage.

"Fuel prices are increasing, in general you've got bills to pay, insurance, everything's increasing," he said.

"It's a difficult situation for everybody, in general the public, and we're also part of the public, we've got families to feed, we've got bills to pay, so it does vastly affect all the drivers.

"I've got not choice but to work seven days a week just to achieve the targets they have implemented otherwise I would try and take a day or two off to spend time with the kids, but this is looking very rare now at the moment."

Veezu took over City Taxis in Sheffield last year.

Veezu said the drivers, who are self-employed, have been given the choice of accepting its terms and conditions.

It said it does not impose targets and drivers are free to manage their own hours and bookings. Many work for other licensed operators, it said.

One driver said that although there was "no doubt" the drivers are self-employed, Veezu should "look after" them.

Another said the company wanted to "delete us".

"I have a mortgage, I have got kids to look after, I have got more expense burden on myself than the young drivers have," he added.

Although self-employed, the drivers say they will band together to strike to fight the changes.

GMB Union organiser Bob McNeil said: "At the same time, [Veezu] are bringing more people into the business.

"The work has not increased, but they are bringing more people in, so again it is having a massive impact on the wage that [the drivers] can earn and they are saying they can't afford it and they are struggling to live."

A spokesperson for Veezu said: "As self-employed drivers running their own businesses, several of the drivers have proposed commercial terms which Veezu is considering and will be discussing with them in the coming weeks.

"As self-employed individuals in business, the drivers operate across several different licensed operators in Sheffield and can decide which operator they use.

"Veezu hopes that the drivers continue to operate via our system, but we recognise this is a commercial market and that drivers will choose to drive with different and multiple operators."

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