Posts Tagged ‘Unite’

Cllr Yaqoob calls for better security following driver murder in city

Mohammed Arshad

Mohammed Arshad

Over 200 private hire drivers and operators attended a meeting in the Birmingham’s Council House  on 11th August, to voice their concerns about driver safety.

The event was organised by Respect Cllr Salma Yaqoob following the murder of cab driver Mohammed Arshad (pictured left) two weeks ago and was addressed by union and police representatives, licensing chiefs and city councillors.

The meeting commenced with a minute’s silence in memory of the 36-year-old father-of-three who, according to the meeting chairwoman Cllr Salma Yaqoob, was a “completely innocent man killed in a most disgusting and brutal way”.

Cllr Yaqoob explained that she called the meeting because since Mr Arshad’s murder she had been inunduated with calls from taxi-drivers concerned about the safety of their profession and anxious that the city authorities were not taking those concerns seriously enough.

Birmingham taxi drivers congregate in the city's Council House

Birmingham taxi drivers congregate in the city's Council House

Drivers complained that they were treated like ‘second class citizens’ by the Police. Racist abuse and assault was a common experience yet when drivers these the response was poor. Two senior West Midlands Police officers present apologised for the inconsistent response of the police and agreed to take the message of the meeting back to the “very top”.

Cab drivers have called for new measures to protect themselves including security cameras, safety screens, convex mirrors, a police hotline and a city-wide blacklist of violent customers. City council head of licensing Pete Barrow added that such measures can ‘be allowed by the licensing committee, but there is still the problem of cost. We will see if there is funding for at least a contribution to the costs.”

Cllr Salma Yaqoob with Perviz Khan and Waseem Zaffer

Cllr Salma Yaqoob with Perviz Khan and Waseem Zaffer

Wasim Zaffer, of the Unite union representing cab drivers, said that private hire adds £3 billion a year to the UK economy.

“It should stop being treated like a third-rate industry. There are more than 5,000 drivers in Birmingham, we need to have our concerns heard,” he said.
Both he and Cllr Salma Yaqoob reteriatied the need for private hire drivers to join a union. One driver commented that if the authorities did not respond to their concerns cabbies would ‘strike and bring the city to a standstill’.

The meeting ended with a commitment from Cllr Yaqoob to reconvene again shortly to review what action had been taken on the proposals of the cab drivers.

Article: Cabbies in call for beter security after driver stabbing in Birmingham – Neil Elkes, Birmingham Post, 11.08.09

Salma Yaqoob at the March for Jobs

City councillor for Birmingham Sparkbrook Salma Yaqoob attends the national March for Jobs – organised by Unite and held in Birmingham – and explains the importance of supporting the call for British jobs to be saved in the midst of a recession.

Date: Saturday 16th May 2009
Venue: March from Highfield Road (B15) to Centenary Square, Central Birmingham.

Salma Yaqoob calls for a big turnout on Birmingham jobs march

Salma Yaqoob is backing Unite's national March for Jobs

Councillor Salma Yaqoob is backing the national ‘March for Jobs’ taking place in Birmingham this Saturday, 16 May. She is calling for a big turnout to send a strong message to the government that protecting jobs must come first.

Councillor Yaqoob said:

“There is hardly a family in the country which has not been affected by the recession. With unemployment now over 2.2 million, every day brings new job losses, and people across Birmingham are worried for their future. Huge sums of money have been used to bail out the banks. We need to see the same commitment to keeping people in jobs, and investing in vital industries to see them through this crisis.

“The government has its priorities wrong; with billions earmarked for wasteful and unnecessary projects like ID cards and the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system. It is time to send a strong message to the government that protecting jobs must be its first priority. That is the right way to protect individuals and families, but also to boost the economy at a time of economic crisis.”

The demonstration, organised by the Unite union, will assemble at 11am on Saturday 16 May at Highfield Road, Edgbaston (corner of Hagley Road), and march to Centenary Square for a rally.

More on Unite’s official website here.