Taxi drivers who drive disabled Hackney children to school in strike threat

Taxi drivers who drive hundreds of disabled children to school in Hackney have voted for strike action in a dispute with the local authority over split shift payments.

Hackney Council are coming under fire after 32 drivers, who are responsible for taking 240 special needs children to school, claimed they were not being paid fairly.

The taxi drivers work a ‘split shift’ meaning their work day is split into two parts, with a significantly long break in between the day. The union say that Hackney taxi drivers are not compensated for this break.

Local councils pay for taxi journeys for particular groups of children attending schools in their boroughs.

According to the union Unite – a British and Irish trade union that fights for fair workers rights  – there are over 70 educational centres that use this service within Hackney.  It said its members voted 100 per cent in favour of taking action in response to the council allegedly refusing to discuss the issue of split shifts.

A spokesperson for Hackney council said: “The action could affect 240 children with special needs. However, we would do all we could to ensure those in most need, and with least mobility, were catered for.

“We reviewed our transport service in 2014 and all drivers signed up to be employed on a split shift arrangement on 30/36-hour contracts. The vast majority were already working split shifts prior to this.”

Onay Kasab, a regional Unite officer has said: “Because of school hours, drivers have to work from the morning until the afternoon.”

An anonymous single mum of two told East London Lines: “My youngest child has a disability, I rely on the taxi to take him to school. If they go on strike I don’t know what I’ll do. Work isn’t very flexible and I have no family around that could help out”.

There is currently no set date for the strikes.

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