While surfing around the web I came across this interesting article by Nick Sommerlad!

How self-employed are Addison Lee’s 2,400 cab drivers?
BY NICK SOMMERLAD ON SEPTEMBER 9, 2010 1:32 AM IN WORK
Order a minicab anywhere in the country and the odds are, the driver who picks you up will be “self-employed”.

But how self-employed are they really?

A genuinely self-employed plumber comes to your house, decides if they want the job and then quotes you a price.

If you accept, your plumber tells you when it can be done, buys their own materials and might even send someone else to do the work.

That’s what self-employment should be, the freedom to make a profit – or risk a loss – on your own terms.

Europe’s biggest minicab firm is Addison Lee with 2,400 self-employed drivers in London.

Addison Lee boss John Griffin
But these drivers can’t use their own vehicles and must hire them through the company for £260 a week, plus another £38 for insurance and £12.50 for car washes. After paying for fuel, drivers start the week around £350 down.

There’s only one way to turn a profit and that’s by putting in the hours.

Those we’ve talked to work at least 60 hours a week, sometimes 70, over six or even seven days. If they work hard bonus payments mean the car can even come free.

“If I work five normal eight-hour days, I might make a loss,” said one. “How can you be self-employed working round the clock for one boss?”

The hours aren’t that flexible either. Drivers have to start by 7.30am or wait until 1pm. Those on nights start by 10pm or wait until 5.30am.

Addison Lee sets the prices for all jobs, including cash ones, and the driver can’t turn them down without being barred from work for 24 hours. It’s a world away from being a freelance plumber.

In theory, a driver can take a week off to work elsewhere but the reality is that Addison Lee is as good as it gets. Cabbies working for other firms often learn the hard way they’ve no right to the minimum wage.

For Addison Lee the benefits are obvious. If work is slack, the cost of the vehicles is paid by their drivers. If it’s busy they get money from every job.

As long as people want work, the company can’t lose. Last year, it took £83million and paid its board £7m.

What about the drivers? Addison Lee founder and chairman John Griffin says they can earn £500 a week “comfortably” and claims “the job has a certain freedom about it”. The company says it has a waiting list of over 100 drivers wanting to sign up.

But they better not get ill or fall out with head office because there’s no sick pay or redundancy rights for the self-employed.

They also better pay their national insurance if they want a full state pension when they retire, because Addison Lee certainly isn’t paying it.

Terry Flanagan of the GMB’s professional drivers branch told us: “The private hire industry is rife with bogus self-employment. Our members are denied basic employment rights and risk being fired without warning.”

Our Gizza Proper Job campaign is calling for a change in the law to end unfair self-employment.

Meanwhile, the success of Addison Lee has made Griffin, 68, from Potters Bar, Herts, a wealthy man, worth over £50m. His firm’s donated £150,000 to the Tories and he’s handed out £155,000 on Channel 4’s Secret Millionnaire.

Except he doesn’t like the word “handouts”. He even recently told his own brother, during a court case over their mother’s inheritance: “I’m not a fan of people who never work”. Well, what about rights for those that do?

Is your MP backing the Gizza Proper Job campaign?

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