WATCH: Glasgow taxi drivers' plight - 'I've been out four hours and made enough for a coffee'

Taxi drivers in Scotland’s biggest city have told of their desperate need for support after business plummeted during the Covid pandemic.

They told of their fears for the future in a video shot in Glasgow city centre by Scotsman photographer John Devlin.

Stephen, who has been a taxi driver for 30 years, said: “Sitting on the rank at George Square, I have been out four hours now and I have done two fares – and managed to make enough for a coffee.”

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Gillian, a taxi driver in Parkhead, who is also in the video, said: “I have been out since 7.55am and it’s now 10.30 and I have done one hire.

Glasgow taxi drivers' businesses are under threat as a lack of passengers takes its toll on their finances. Picture: John Devlin
Glasgow taxi drivers' businesses are under threat as a lack of passengers takes its toll on their finances. Picture: John Devlin

"If we had a static business, we would have been given a grant.”

Calum Anderson, chair of the Glasgow taxi section of the union Unite, said: "On a daily basis I’m getting phone calls from members and it’s heartbreaking the tales of woe.

"The taxi trade in Glasgow is often told by the council we are the ambassadors for the city.

"We certainly don’t feel that way of late.”

Stephen said he had only made enough money in four hours for a coffee.

The concerns came as taxi drivers staged a protest outside the Scottish Parliament yesterday over the lack of support so far.

Drivers are pushing for the sector to be supported in the same way as other public transport operators after the Scottish Government announced an extra £29 million for bus firms to keep them afloat until March.

Andy Taylor, an Edinburgh taxi driver said: “We are so angry.

"It’s clear they don't understand what we are up against, especially owner operators who have significant costs.”

Calum Anderson of Unite said he was receiving "heartbreaking tales of woe" from drivers daily. Picture: John Devlin

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Last week, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced a one-off grant scheme and £19 million fund to support drivers, but details are yet to be announced.

This follows support being announced to taxi drivers by the governments of Northern Ireland and Wales.

Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: "It's estimated there are around 36,000 tax drivers across Scotland, with the majority of them having dramatic cuts in their income, with around a third having had access to no government support at all.

"We need urgent clarification and the release of the promised support from last week, and a commitment to continue to support the trade."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We understand how difficult this pandemic has been for taxi drivers and their families, which is why on December 9 the finance secretary announced £19m of targeted support for taxi drivers through a one-off grant, which will be available from January.

"We are currently considering further support for fixed costs pressures on self-employed taxi drivers and others and are actively taking steps to fill in the gaps in UK-wide schemes.

"This includes £15m for newly self-employed people who are not able to access other forms of financial support.

"In October we opened the Covid-19 Public Transport Mitigation Fund, offering £5m of funding to support installation of equipment that reduces the risk of coronavirus transmission on public, community and school transport, including taxi and private hire operators."

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