Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Prosecution of Drivers over Uniform Infringements:

10k. Prosecution of Drivers over Uniform Infringements:

The decision to impose individual fleet uniforms as part of the mid1990s so-called "reform package" was resented for many reasons.Firstly the drivers knew from past experience, that it was even ifthe owners were given the millions of dollars they received from thedollar flag fall increase in June 1996, (falsely and unlawfullyclaimed as intended in part to pay for the new uniforms), ownerswould still rip them off by either not reimbursing drivers for moneyspent on uniforms or by simply not supplying them at all. No downtimewas ever paid for hours lost queuing for fitting out or travelling toand from the base clothing collection point. Nearly all replacementcosts are met by drivers. The supply of uniforms was one morebargaining chip owners used to force drivers into inhospitableworking conditions. (e.g. "If you want a Friday shift, pay for yourown uniform", etc.).

Secondly, drivers knew that "Co-op specific uniforms" were yetanother method of controlling and disciplining the drivers by theindividual Taxi Co-op Networks. It was also a method of breaking downindustry-wide solidarity between drivers. The introductionof "Executive Fleet" uniforms was a further imposition of a hierarchyof drivers (divide & rule tactics) in this regard. Thirdly, thedrivers knew that uniforms were one more way the Networks couldfinancially rip-off drivers and single cab owner-operators. It was nosurprise when the media exposed the clothing as emanating fromIndonesian "sweat shops", sold by the Co-ops for nearly 1,000% mark-ups, dangerous to health because of inferior cloth or chemicalreactions in summer heat, imposed as compulsory without anyconsultation over design (e.g. TCS drivers resented being confrontedby frightened child passengers who thought they were "policemen withguns" because of the colour scheme chosen by the TCS Network).

The issue of uniforms in the taxi industry have long been a sorepoint with drivers. Drivers preferred to dress in neat butcomfortable clothing of their own choice -to enhance relaxation andself-confidence when driving. Many came to the job after leaving themore regimental "public service" jobs, such as government busdriving, specifically to avoid petty squabbles over uniforms withmanagement. Even before uniforms became mandatory, drivers had fordecades incurred financial penalties and court appearances overtedious infringements notices from over-zealous petty-bureaucratsmasquerading as taxi inspectors (e.g. polar neck jumpers vs. turtleneck jumpers and socks with shorts being one inch too low).

In August 1997 a letter was forwarded to the Minister for Transport,Brian Langton, requesting basic statistical information on the numberof drivers and owners prosecuted for infringements of the uniformregulations and other misdemeanours.[AB1] The Minister revealedthat "....100 infringement notices have been issued to drivers whofail to wear approved uniforms" in the period between January 1997and his October 1997 reply. Thus even in this short period a hundreddrivers had forfeited an entire day's income or more, (the fine is aminimum of $100), for innocuous offences like wearing brown leathershoes instead of black ones. In his letter the Minister failed tocite records of even one taxi owner facing prosecution for failing toissue the approved uniform to a driver as was required of them underthe new legislation. [AB2] Earlier correspondence to the Ministerbetween 1995-96 had provided well-documented cases of taxi owners notfollowing the DOT rules and regulations on this issue and the DOT'stotal reluctance to prosecute [Y1-3], [AF1 -3] , [AJ1 -3], [AB1 -2],[W1 -3].

Source: Sydney Taxi Corruption

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