Judgement pending for union suing Northampton's Bound Taxis for workers' rights

The firm representing - which previously won a court case against Uber - says a victory would be a "landmark" ruling

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 3:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 3:58 pm
A Northampton taxi firm has been taken to court by two workers suing them for workers rights.

The outcome of a court case against a Northampton taxi firm being sued for workers' right could be a 'landmark' hearing for the UK's private taxi industry.

Bounds Taxi is being taken to court by two of its cabbies to argue that drivers should be paid a minimum wage and holiday pay.

Now, following a four day court hearing in Watford last week (April 26), the countdown has begun before a decision is handed down.

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Two drivers, Mr Samuel Adjei (left) and Mr Shafqat Shah (centre), are arguing for guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay, pension contributions, and collective bargaining rights.

The ruling could set a precedent for how private taxi firms across the country pay their drivers.

It comes after the firm fighting the case, the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU), won a supreme court battle against Uber in February that entitled drivers to national minimum wage and holiday pay.

ADCU president Yaseen Aslam said: "Throughout the UK we see that almost the entire private hire industry has copied Uber’s model of worker exploitation by misclassifying workers so to deny them their statutory rights.

"It is unfortunate that Bounds Taxis has not been willing to meet its legal obligations as an employer and that neither the government nor Northampton City Council [sic.] have stepped in to insist they do so. The ADCU will not hesitate to take what ever action is necessary to clean up the trade."

The two Northampton drivers, Mr Shafqat Shah and Mr Samuel Adjei, are suing Bounds for worker's rights and say the firm's cabbies are working 12 hour days seven-days-a-week to earn a minimum wage.

On average, drivers also have to pay £30-a-day for fuel and insurance while also paying £175-per-week "radio rent" fees to work for Bounds in the first place.

It comes after around 40 drivers protested outside the company's offices in Bradshaw Street in December 2019, which called for a £5 minimum fare on jobs, a freeze on hiring more drivers and for Bounds to instead collect fees on a 15 per cent commission basis instead of a flat fee for drivers.

When the Chronicle & Echo first reported on the legal action in July 2020, a spokesperson for the company said there were systems in place to achieve a high level of service.

The Bounds spokesperson said: "We, like every firm in the country, charge a fixed fee and supply the driver bookings. We do not stipulate what time they start or finish, the agreement allows them to come and go as they wish and there are no restrictions on the number of hours they can work or the number of bookings they can receive.

"We must stress that each and every driver is self-employed and has the choice to move to another company any time they wish.

"The majority stay with us as we have, being the largest fleet, the ability to provide a far quicker service than most and consequently have secured a much larger percentage of the work within the town.

"It, therefore, follows that they have the potential to increase their earnings."