Taxi Drivers Stand-Up to Soulsby

Hundreds of Leicester taxi drivers are proud members of the RMT union precisely so they can then enter into collective negotiations with their bully-boy boss, Sir Peter Soulsby. Acting with a united voice within a union is especially important given Soulsby’s poor track record in dealing fairly with his employees.

Unison is the main union of choice for public sector workers, with more than 1.3 million members across the country. But sadly, as Gary Garner, the Secretary of Unison’s city branch points out, Soulsby “seems to not be interested in working with the unions” (“Mayor criticised over cuts policy,” October 29).

This is borne out by Soulsby’s mishandling on the ongoing taxi dispute. Just last week, the Leicester Mercury reported how “RMT regional organiser Ken Usher said Sir Peter was acting autocratically and beyond his authority” (December 15).

At a static protest of around 200 workers, that took place outside the Council’s headquarters last week, RMT Leicestershire and Rutland branch secretary Umar Khan explained: Soulsby “is forcing us to protest because he will not come out of his office and talk to us” (December 16).

taxidriverprotest

After following-up this demonstration with another go-slow protest, Steve Hedley, the RMT’s national assistant general secretary, intervened, noting his shock at Leicester’s Labour mayor’s resolute recalcitrance: “I think any elected official would at least sit down and meet face-to-face” (December 18).

Bullying seems key to understanding Soulsby’s ignorant posturing. Observant letter writers’ to the Mercury have described Soulsby as acting “like a terrible headmaster using threats of punishment if his instructions are not adhered to” (“Mayor is using bullying tactics,” December 15); a mayor who  “will throw his toys out the pram if he does not get his own way” (“City mayor is control freak,” December 18).

These critics may be closer to the truth than they thought, as evidenced by Soulsby’s most recent missive to the press: “The taxi drivers are behaving like kids in a playground” (December 19).

Clearly Soulsby seems incapable of viewing taxi drivers as adult workers with very real concerns about the future of their livelihoods. Instead he continues to look down upon our city’s hard-working taxi drivers, as if they were so many naughty children, whose juvenile concerns must be resolutely ignored, for their own good.

This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on December 19. Edited version published on December 26 (removed parts shown in bold).

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