West Belfast Black Taxi’s, Women on Strike! – Saoradh Nuacht

Women at Falls Black Taxi Association are on strike, over shocking inequality in pay and disgusting exploitation by a once community orientated project that is now for profit.

Commenting on the pay dispute between their members and Belfast Taxis Community Interest Company, Sean Smyth, Regional Officer from Unite stated, “Managements attitude towards their workforce belongs to a boss in a Dickensian novel.”

Workers and shoppers making their way through a dreary and wet Wednesday Belfast morning, must have been more than a little taken back by the sight of (CIC) female administration staff accompanied by their Union representatives picketing for equal pay outside an association that claims to have community at the very heart of its ethos.

The women at the centre of this latest dispute claim they haven’t received a pay rise in 12 years.

To add to this they say, ‘Three years ago our office manager left and her work was divided up between the remaining two of us but the pay didn’t increase”

“We spent over 6 hours with Labour Relations last week showing proof of the extra work and duties. In response to this the board, management conceded a one percent pay increase which works out basically £3 per week. When we refused this we were offered £20 a week, however to get this this pay rise we would have to forfeit 16 days of our holiday entitlement.”

The Falls Black Taxi Association also referred to as the ( The People’s Taxis) have a long, long history in Belfast.
That history began over 40 years ago when due to the lack of availability of public transport, a community plan was hatched which give rise to the idea that some locals would travel to London and buy some old Black Taxis.

These imported Black Taxis steadily grew, and so did the ability of people formerly restricted by barricades and other forms of road closures to move across the West and the North of the City.
At times the taxis and their drivers were the target of both the British State and Loyalist murder gangs.

In recent years Belfast Taxis Community Interest Company has extended their outreach to providing ‘historical tours’ to the mass of tourists who flood the North to take in the murals and so-called ‘Troubles spots.’

Yet the back drop of this thriving business features women workers who are not being paid on equal terms with men.

In a local paper one female employee who has worked for the Taxi Association for 22 years was quoted as saying, “This morning is about equality, fair treatment, all those buzz words that are going about-respect, integrity and transparency. People might have thought that women will take what they are given and that is that, but women will ask for more and in this case we are entitled to more. Every single man who takes on an extra role in Belfast Taxis is paid and that is fair, however it’s only fair that we get paid for our extra work too.”

Saoradh stands by the striking workers. All the wealth of the association is created by its workforce and it should be equally distributed amongst them without gender discrimination. Saoradh call for community support for the striking workers.

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