Waynes World – April 2016

B6TWNDmCQAAHCZaWayne’s World

By

Wayne Casey

The views in this article may not be those of whomever the publishers decide this month (although this column is available for sponsorship for a very decent fee)

This month’s article was going to tackle various issues, some of which were potentially even taxi trade related. The best-laid plans fell apart at the seams with the news from the NTA Chairman of Bryan Rowland’s sad demise.

I have known Bryan for a good few years, in my position in the NTA I always found Bryan willing to pick up the phone and help me with certain issues that arose. Be this the digging out of a court case from his document littered desk or having a general whinge about the idiocy of many of you.

We got on well from the moment we met and to be honest I always considered myself a bit of a pupil and I shall miss him getting annoyed at me immensely.

My thoughts are with his family, the NHPA (Donna & Karen), PHTM paper and the licensed industry, we have lost a person that did his best often at his own expense, helped 1000’s on route and a tremendous font of knowledge.

I must admit, I was slightly confused during March; perhaps it’s my growing alcoholism.

The Manchester Evening News and one national newspaper, the Independent, (but strangely few other media outlets) reported on a demonstration by private-hire drivers against that damn app.

They launched the protest against a move by the damn app company to ‘drastically reduce’ fares.

The drivers in Manchester, protested outside the firm’s office, they said the decision to cut fares had been made without concern for their welfare and left them earning below the minimum wage.

The drivers have now written to Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese asking for a “crisis meeting” to discuss the “sweatshop conditions” amid claims some are having to work 90 hours week to make ends meet.

Quite what Sir Richard will or can do is open to speculation, perhaps given the ‘Sir’ before his name, he is legally allowed to decapitate the damn app’s proprietors? Now that would be interesting. However, I don’t think he can do anything.

As ever the power is with the drivers that downloaded the app. Perhaps they should all switch their phones off on a Saturday? Although, we don’t get that type of loyalty in the licensed industry.

I don’t want to call these drivers liars but the same week as the protest British Telecom website bt.com/lifestyle/money told another story.

For example, one driver called Stephen, driving for the damn app company says provides him with a full time wage. He said: “I take home around £700 for a 35 hour working week; sometimes I’ll do more but I never go over 45 hours and I don’t always work weekends”.

Stephen should know his stuff; after all, he gave up his job as a college lecturer to look after his mum.

As we all know, people who look after their mothers are obviously good people, it’s always worthwhile to show a decent character background in a story.

Stephen’s claims are backed up by Deborah, who joined that damn app as she wanted flexible work after leaving the fire service.

She said: “I like the fact there’s no minimum hours; you only have to make one trip a month to keep on the books and I do anything from an hour a week up to 60 hours, which brought in £1,100 after their cut”.

Obviously, Ahmed Nurein, chair of the Manchester Private Hire Drivers’ Forum, does not share Stephen and Deborah’s claims he said: “Manchester City Council must not close their eyes to unsafe, sweatshop conditions as meted out to drivers by Uber.”

In fact, Yaseen Aslam, co-founder of United Private Hire Drivers, said: “Uber drivers are earning well below minimum wage and having to work excessive and unsafe hours to meet their costs and earn enough to support their families.”

There was talk of drivers forced to work 90 hours per week to make ends meet.

Obviously someone is talking bullsh*t here, between you and me I don’t think its Ahmed or Yaseen.

You really have to stand back in awe at this level of bullsh*t.

I mean what an amazing coincidence! The same week a group of drivers protest about a loss and lack of earning a decent living from that damn app firm – a story appears claiming the exact opposite.

Two relatively novice drivers, making more money than the majority of more experienced drivers?

Really? I seriously don’t think so. It’s all bullsh*t.

I recommend ‘Flat Earth News’, a great book by the award-winning journalist Nick Davies, where he takes the lid off newspapers and broadcasters, exposing the mechanics of falsehood, distortion and propaganda.

The simple fact is that PR companies often plant stories that are picked up by lazy or overworked journalists. Sometimes they’re simply placed into the media and made to look like articles, when they are actually advertisements.

The actual reality is that it is not strange that during the week a group of drivers protest about a loss and lack of earning a decent living from that damn app firm – a story appears claiming the exact opposite.

A week or so later the Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP) reported a protest by ‘Hundreds of private hire drivers gathered outside Leeds Town Hall’, this went unreported in the national press, despite numerous press releases by the organising body the UPHD.

Again, drivers were protesting about ‘debt and despair’ and ‘sweatshop conditions’.

As I pointed out last month, the sooner these drivers realise, nobody actually gives a flying fig what they want, earn or feel emotionally, the sooner they will reach my own conclusion of happy ignorance, get removed and remote from such feelings, become a spectator.

The YEP reported on a protest by ‘Hundreds of private hire drivers’ yet no national newspaper appears to have picked up on the story?

The day after the protest and same day as the YEP article, the Daily mail reported on a Cambridgeshire taxi driver taking a wheelchair of a disabled passenger in a row over a fare. The BBC news website reported on a statement from Mary Ney in Rotherham, ‘The suspension of about 40 taxi drivers in Rotherham is aimed at restoring public confidence’.

However, no national mention of drivers protesting about ‘sweatshop conditions’, strange how there appeared to be a virtual news blackout over the demonstration.

Further to the above, we had a suggestion in one article from a UK media outlet that drink driving rates have been reduced because of that damn app.

By coincidence within one week, a report broke into the news via the House of Commons Transport Select Committee who were worried that offences were going unreported due to a huge reduction in specialised road policing officers. The total number of offences detected on roads in England and Wales went from 4.3 million in 2004 to 1.5 million in 2014, said the report.

The drink driving angle came out the same week as the protests and incidentally one of the damn apps drivers ploughed into a bus whilst drink driving after he ran a red light in San Diego, he was arrested after failing a sobriety test, and charged with driving under the influence.

Further scrutiny (well a simple internet search) will lead you to an article by Jessica Ciencin Henriquez who was also driven by a drunk driver of that damn app and wrote an article about her experiences.

The drink-driving perspective is one that is following the app worldwide, it’s seemingly a new marketing ploy, it started in the US during the middle of last year following research from Fox School of Business Temple University – Department of Management Information Systems.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed.

I wonder if the damn app firm contribute to the coffers of this particular academic institute?

Unsurprisingly, the driver who crashed into a bus whilst ‘Brahms and List’ was removed as a ‘partner’ and it was predictably pointed out he was not at work at the time, the usual guff and excuses we’re all accustomed to.

Like with the damn apps Leytonstone Tube nutter, who wasn’t at work at the time, when he flipped his lid in a tube station and stabbed a member of the public whilst shouting ‘this is for Syria’.

Although Jason Dalton in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was actually at work at the time when he shot and killed 6 people and injured a few others, indeed one rider, (that damn app doesn’t have passengers, it has riders), did send them a message advising them that the driver was as nutty as a fruitcake.

The damn app said it would not be changing the way it screened its drivers following the shooting spree. It also said Dalton had received “very favourable” feedback from riders.

“There were no red flags, if you will, that we could anticipate something like this,” said the damn apps chief security officer, Joe Sullivan.

I love the fact the app company has a ‘chief security officer’; it fills me with a wonderful sense of apprehension.

It was reported the company never meets potential drivers in person.

Now that is definitely reassuring, well at least to those nutcases and rapists out there. After all, they won’t have to go out and buy a suit for an interview or smarten themselves up. They can stay at home and fill in the application form in the comfort of their urine stained ‘Y’ fronts, whilst eating ice cream, reading serial killers weekly whilst polishing their favourite firearm.

“A background check is just that – a background check. It does not foresee the future,” Ed Davis, of the Uber Safety Advisory Board, told a teleconference with reporters.

I bet the families of the victims are completely reassured by such a comforting statement.

A safety advisory board? My wonderful sense of wtf returns once more.

The Guardian newspaper reported that the damn app company received and did not act on a complaint that Jason Dalton had been “driving dangerously” before he went on to shoot and kill six people in Michigan.

The rider, Matt Mellen, reported Dalton for erratic driving and said he had called 911 after “jumping” out of the car. The damn app company confirmed they had not reviewed the feedback, which came in about five hours before the first victim was killed.

As Ed Davis said, ‘it does not foresee the future’, however Ed, if you maybe had staff checking reviews in the 5 hours previous to the attacks, then there might be a few more people breathing today.

The NY Daily news reported that two of Dalton’s victims were on the road to recovery. Yet such is the utter perversion of the US medical system, both 14-year-old Abigail Kopf and Tiana Carruthers, a 26-year-old mother who put herself between Dalton and a group of playing children have had to get their medical bills paid via internet appeals for cash.

As US media outlet reported that Dalton told police that when he would press a button on his phone screen, the horned cow head of a devil would appear and give him an assignment that he said would “literally take over” his body.

“When I logged onto site (the damn app), it started making me feel like a puppet,” obviously this driver had issues, but in fairness to the damn app he also had very high ratings from the public, sadly he also had a very high kill ratio.

A further twist in the tale is that Dalton has launched a lawsuit claiming $10 million from the damn app, sky news reported.

In a handwritten complaint, Jason Dalton claims he is “currently in prison because of Uber”, but does not mention the shootings in Kalamazoo.

In the lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Detroit, he claims the company “ripped” him off and failed to pay him back wages and overtime.

He wrote: “I busted my butt for them. They gave me no Christmas bonus, I wasn’t invited to any corporate parties, they made me work when I was sick and didn’t let me spend time with my two children.

“My life is ruined because of Uber. My wife is divorcing me because of Uber.”

Uber has said Dalton began working for the company in January this year.

In a statement, it said: “It’s hard to know how to respond to someone who refuses to take responsibility for his own actions.

“Our hearts go out to the victims’ families who have to live with the consequences of his terrible crimes.”

Of course their ‘hearts go out to the victims families’, just not their wallets, because that would suggest liability. This would seem to be as bullsh*t as their background checks.

Indeed, I’ve already mentioned two victims reliant upon crowdfunding to ensure they get their medical bills paid.

And what about poor Mr Dalton, his wife is apparently divorcing him because of that damn app, nothing to do with the of murdering innocents and taking responsibility for your own actions.

We appear to have gone from a mad and sad situation, to a state known only to physiatrists.

Let’s forget the physiatrists, maybe let us for one moment think Dalton had a point, the damn app did ruin his life, it’s a coincidence I guess that they changed their logo a matter of days before Daltons statement about a horned beast.

In terms of language, the app described him as a partner, part of the app’s family, should he been invited to the firms Christmas soirée?

Getting back to a positive story to combat the negative, guess what the press report?

The LA weekly reported on similar tactics after they published a critical article about driver’s experiences with that damn app. Within twenty-four hours of them publishing the critical article, they received an email offering a first-person essay about how great that damn app is.

The LA weekly thought it was strange – as they put it ‘A former cab driver with his own PR handler?’

The problem is that others will believe the fairy stories of Steve and Debs, who if the article had continued to a decent ending, would have presumably married each other and ended up on some tropical island, hand in hand, as the sun goes down, looking dreamily in each other’s eyes. With Stephen’s mother in the background.

Oh sorry, that was an episode of Benidorm.

Little wonder the public is confused because we appear to have ‘good news’ stories appearing in the media to deliberately kill off the negative press stories.

Till next month