You really have to feel sorry for all those troubled taxi drivers who were protesting in Dublin yesterday, don’t you? You see, they have no control of their working conditions (sitting down in a comfy seat and forced to listen to country music all day; “no rights, no negotiations, no say in working conditions” say the placards) and there are too many of them, apparently (“currently 26,843 licences, enough is enough” say the other placards). So… taxi driving is no different than any other job, then.
There are many other questions to be asked of the taxi regulator first, surely. For instance, can we have a system in place that stops someone (me) being charged five different fares for precisely the same journey over the course of a week? Can we have more stringent procedures in place to root out sexist and racist drivers (especially ones who constantly complain about ‘African drivers’)? Why do taxi drivers obviously available for a fare continue to ignore people (usually people not in a skirt) trying to get home on a rainy Friday night, even when they’re not drunk? Why do they still not know their way around Marino estate when it’s been there since the 1920s? More pertinently, why are licences ever given out at all before a thorough geography exam to establish the basics, as with “The Knowledge” in London? And is it possible that current licence holders can be reassessed for their suitabilty for the job before any more licences are handed out?
But on the point of the supposed over-abundance of licences – surely people are being made redundant or having their hours or workload reduced all over the country because there are too many people doing specific jobs, when there’s not enough work or demand for the specific service to go around? Why are taxi drivers a special case? It’s not a specialist field, anyone with a driving licence can do it – it’s just that some are better, more punctual, quicker and cheaper than others.
I mean, arguably, there are too many freelance journalists and not enough publications to go around for us all too. So that’s it [N.B. taxi drivers – sarcasm alert], I’m starting a protest march – who’s with me? Let’s put an end to all journalism courses now! Let’s stop people from becoming media savvy at once! Let’s restrict the blabbing of opinion to the people presently employed in journalism – and, er, taxi drivers too, just for the sake of an argument. God knows, we journalists will be putting ourselves out of a job if we encourage anyone fairer or better than us to come along…