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PRIVATE-HIRE drivers were due to take strike action today to remember a murdered colleague and to demand action to tackle abuse that is “endemic” in the sector.
As the Morning Star went to press, members of the Independent Workers’ Union (IWGB) were due to switch off their apps for two hours and light candles in memory of Gabriel Bringye, who was stabbed while working for the operator Bolt in north London on February 17.
A memorial to Mr Bringye has been placed at the Tottenham location where he was stabbed.
Drivers working for a number of operators, including Bolt, Uber, Free Now and Ola, were expected to gather in small socially distanced groups, displaying placards demanding improved safety measures for the sector.
The strike has been organised by an informal coalition of Romanian driver groups, supported by the IWGB and as part of the Gabriel’s Life Matters campaign. The union said it was working closely with Mr Bringye’s family.
A majority of private-hire drivers surveyed by the union say they have been physically assaulted, with eight in 10 saying they have been verbally abused, a poll by the union has found.
The recent High Court ruling against Uber underlines that the operators have a duty of care towards their drivers, it says.
“The endemic abuse and violence in this sector is a disgrace, and Gabriel’s death is a painful reminder of how devastating the consequences can be,” IWGB president Alex Marshall said.
Demanding action from the operators and a culture change among users, Nader Awaad, vice-chairman of the IWGB’s private-hire drivers’ branch, said: “As long as these operators treat us like second-class citizens, denied the most basic rights, [they] set a dangerous precedent: that our lives don’t matter.”
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