Berlin’s taxi industry has been in crisis for over twenty years. In contrast, the fleet of registered hire cars has almost doubled since 2016. The parliamentary groups of the Berlin Senate parties are now calling for effective measures to be taken against hire cars operating illegally as taxis in a motion to the House of Representatives. The red-red-green coalition is to campaign for fair competitive conditions in the industry.
Berlin taxi social pilot Klaus Meier comments:
"The move is long overdue and is good and right in the matter. Unfortunately, the initiators fail to recognise that the boundary between the taxi and hire car industries is fluid in practice. The wage dumping with which hire car companies are driving the taxi industry to ruin is also practised by taxi companies across the board. Payment below the minimum wage threshold is also the rule in the taxi sector.
To bring about a fundamental improvement in the taxi industry, the Berlin Senate must finally take its regulatory powers seriously. This includes three measures in particular:
– The State Office for the Transport of Citizens and Goods must be staffed up and modernised.
– All available data must be continuously analysed to identify infringements.
– Cooperation between the supervisory authorities on compliance with the Working Hours Act, Minimum Wage Act and Passenger Transport Act must be expanded. This will also enable tax offences to be investigated more effectively than before."
Meier is also calling for a return to minimum standards in the industry: "The abolition of the small geography knowledge test for ambulance and hire car drivers by the Federal Minister of Transport has dramatically brought to light the connection between training, quality and wage levels. By lowering the entry requirements for the small chauffeur’s licence, the hire car industry has been opened up to criminal exploiters as a lucrative field of activity. The hire car companies can now brutally exploit immigrants as hire car drivers and surpass the intensity of the well-known illegal wage dumping in taxis."