From the meeting held on Thursday with HAL/APCOA over the Management of the Taxi Ranks.
Sean Taylor & Alison Crathorne APCOA; Andy Cameron HAL; Paul Brennan & Michael Calvey LTDA; Eddie Symes HATDU; Dennis Browne UNITE; Mark White LCDC.
Andy Cameron started the meeting by saying he had taken advice from Senior HAL Management prior to the meeting with the Trade and as much as they appreciated the Taxi Groups willingness to find a solution to the problems they were not prepared to allow Taxi Marshals/Reps to actively participate on Taxi Ranks.
However, did say he was happy for Taxi Marshals to advise and assist over local journeys/Fares Fair.
Sean Taylor offered additional ‘Attendants’ to help with trolleys etc. in and around the Ranks. He has also recruited an additional driver separate from Agents following an issue, last week, when there was no Agent on T4 during the morning rush hour on two occasions.
From our discussion we learned that NSL had lost the contract to APCOA back in early 2014 with the handover on April 1st (yes, really) with APCOA taking control of the Ranks on June 1st.
APCOA said they were unaware that 50% of Staff would leave even though they had changed the Terms and Conditions of the Staff. On June 13th, half the staff walked out without giving any notice.
We were told that there had been no wage reduction but rather a restructuring of the roster and shift patterns. Previously, the Agents had been self-employed; they are now employed and receive sick-pay and holidays.
There is, according to APCOA, no Labour cost difference. In fact, Sean was keen to point out that the average hourly working week of Agents is now less than before and there have been no staff cuts.
However, Dennis Browne, of Unite, was quick to point out that there had been a 50% Staff reduction on the Taxi Ranks by reducing the Agents from a Minimum of two to one.
Both Andy Cameron and Sean Taylor defended this position, but they failed to understand that the work levels could change at a moments notice with late flights or the HEX being suspended and that currently work levels are as low as most of the Cabbies have experienced in over 30 years.
To that end, we have asked for Facts & Figures to be supplied so that we can monitor the demand for Taxis and where those Taxis go. It was constantly pointed out by the Reps, that this is our business not HAL’s or APCOA’s and we are subject to TfL’s rules not Heathrow Bye-Laws.
Having discussed Wages and staffing levels, the Reps asked for copies of the Service Level Agreement. The conversation was difficult at times due to the current situation. It was eventually admitted that APCOA could be said to be in breach of their contract but Andy Cameron explained that he had put his own personal reputation on the line by backing Sean Taylor and had complete faith in both him and APCOA to resolve all the issues.
Again the Trade explained that that was why we were there and offering to help: that extra resources, over and above what had been suggested, was needed in the immediate short-term.
Again, Andy Cameron said that he was happy to discuss how we could constructively help but that he was going to decline our help.
Further discussion proved fruitless in that regard but the Trade have now offered to assist with monitoring Training to help get Agents up to speed and made a number of suggestions as to how to improve the situation.
Sean Taylor has listened to our criticisms and agreed to bring in additional resources, over and above those mentioned earlier and it was reluctantly agreed that the Reps would observe to see if there were any improvements and report back to both Sean and Andy at another meeting in a week’s time.
In the meantime Drivers can email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with information related to issues at Heathrow in future and the comments/pictures with be collated and relayed to the relevant Authorities.
If there is no obvious improvement in the service provided to us, then the Taxi Trade will have to look to pursue other avenues.
TfL, so far, have failed to show any interest in the situation on the Ranks at Heathrow, and have not attended meetings for years.
Darren Crowson said earlier in the week: “As you are aware Heathrow Airport Limited is responsible for the management of these taxi ranks and so it is for them to determine how the dispatch system operates, who they chose to act as marshals at the ranks or if they wish to relinquish control of the taxi system.”
This situation cannot continue and T&PH will be hearing from the Trade in the forthcoming week.
There was a further meeting held at the Airport by the Heathrow Taxi Group to discuss what happens next and to begin the process of agreeing an Agenda for the next meeting with HAL. If any driver has a concern, please contact the Group on the email: