Statement on the Formation of the SPHA

We are licensed private hire drivers, operating in Scotland, and are convening in a voluntary association to act as representatives of our trade, to serve as stakeholders of our trade, and to campaign for and to work for improvements to our trade. We affirm that we are self employed sole traders and that we are assembling together in solidarity with one another; convinced that such association assures a strong collective voice to represent our individual and shared interests as licensed private hire drivers. We do this while being ever mindful of the principles of solidarity, fellowship, democracy, integrity, honesty, patience, and service.

The SPHA seeks to represent the individual and shared interests of licensed private hire drivers as industry stakeholders and in doing so seek to ensure that all private hire drivers may earn a fair income and that working conditions for private hire drivers are being continuously improved. We seek this while promoting the highest of standards to our customers in terms of customer service and professionalism.

We seek to foster and nurture solidarity, fellowship and co-operation between our members and the wider private hire driver community so that such solidarity, fellowship and co-operation may lead to the free exchange of useful information concerning the trade, a collective spirit of professionalism within the trade, and a shared sense that campaigning and working together for improvements in our trade shall benefit us all.

We seek to engage with local authorities, governments, quangos, licensing authorities, law enforcement, private hire booking offices, employers, and any other party with an interest in the trade or affecting the trade to help deliver continuous improvement to the working conditions and earning potential within the trade.

We also stand to defend our members against threats to their livelihoods, including when a members’ license is under threat, but also including defending members against events that may threaten to worsen working conditions or decrease the earning potential for the trade as a whole.

Finally, we seek to defend our members against threats to their status and rights as a self employed sole trader. In instances where a member is being treated like a worker or an employee, then the SPHA shall support that member in seeking to correct their working conditions to ensure they are treated as self employed else support that member in seeking judicial remedy.

This is an exciting time for the private hire trade in Scotland. In the past few years, we have seen a real groundswell of grassroots activity in our trade with drivers coming together and uniting in a fashion never seen before. We have seen drivers stand in solidarity with one another, aware that campaigning together as a collective can bring positive benefits to the trade. We stood together and fought for support from the Scottish Government and local authorities during the pandemic and by doing so we helped secure financial aid for the trade as well as forcing policy changes on allowing partition screens in private hire cars, extending the implementation of the requirements for SQA certification, and gaining ourselves a seat at the top stakeholder group with the Scottish Government’s Licensing Directorate.

This work will continue. We will lobby Glasgow City Council on vehicle age requirements and seek to engage with them to help improve their services to drivers on licensing documentation. We will campaign in Edinburgh to seek a shift in policy to allow private hire cars to use bus lanes. We will lobby all councils for the permanent permission for private hire cars to keep partition screens on grounds of driver safety. And, we will continue to tirelessly defend and support drivers in Scotland and campaign for the betterment of our trade with the same high energy and indomitable spirit that we always have.

There is, without doubt, a place for trade unions and that place is to serve the drivers out there that want to focus on employment law. However, we have no appetite to continue focusing on issues of employment law as a high priority and we have no desire to see the entire trade move away from being fully self employed. That is not our mission. We want to see positive changes for drivers, particularly in the licensing regime in Scotland. We want to see drivers remain self employed while making a decent income. We want to foster professionalism in the trade and help raise industry standards. We want to defend the livelihoods of drivers against threats to their licenses. These are the fights we want to focus on, and these are the fights that we will fight.

As ever,
In Solidarity,
And yours, for the trade,

Eddie Grice, JP Duffy, Paul Nelson, James Armstrong and John Wallace.
The SPHA Interim Executive Committee.

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