Private hire drivers are blockading London Bridge this afternoon in an ongoing protest against the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone in April.
The protest, which follows three previous demonstrations, will last from 4pm-7pm, according to the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain’s (IWGB) United Private Hire Drivers branch.
The union has slammed the move as a “tax on the poor”.
The Ultra-Low Emissions Zone will mean a £12.50 daily charge for most vehicle types driving into the zone, including many minicabs, which don’t meet low-emission standards.
Black cabs are exempt from the charge.
Yaseen Aslam, Secretary of the IWGB’s UPHD branch, said the union had been left with no option but to escalate its protests.
“The Mayor has refused to engage with minicab drivers who will be pushed into greater poverty by this ruinous tax on the poor,” he said. “London is one of the most profitable cities in the world for operators like Uber, yet it is drivers and their families, not the company, that are being made to bear the costs of fixing up congestion.
“Until the Mayor comes to the table and listens to us we are left with no choice but to further escalate our protests.”
The union said it expected hundreds of minicab drivers to turn out to the blockade, and has vowed to keep the action going weekly.
However, TfL has insisted the move is necessary to clean up the capital’s dirty air.
“The private hire trade, along with all road users, have a central role in reducing the filthy fumes circulating in our city,” said Alex Williams, TfL’s Director of City Planning last month.
“The changes to the Congestion Charge will contribute to fewer vehicles driving where pollution is most concentrated while ensuring the cleanest minicabs or those that are wheelchair accessible continue to enter the zone without paying a charge.”