Every month TaxiPro talks to people from the taxi and coach sector about their work. This time it is Tea Panneman’s turn, who has been working as a taxi driver for eighteen years and has also been a member consultant at FNV for five years. She does the latter because, according to her, many fellow drivers are disadvantaged because their employers do not comply with the collective labor agreement.
In her first years as a taxi driver, Panneman mainly drove student transport at Taxi de Grooth, which was acquired by Connexxion in 26. WMO transport has been its main task for two years now. “The company has decided this because I have been very active at the FNV trade union for about five years now. As a result, I was away a lot, which made it more flexible in terms of flexibility to drive social assistance transport.”
The driver has become actively involved in the union because she cannot stand injustice, something that according to her, there is plenty in the taxi industry. “Over the years you come into contact with many drivers, also from other companies. Then you notice that the collective labor agreement and the applicable laws and regulations are not complied with at many companies.” Panneman thinks that this is partly due to tenders. “Profit margins are low and clients pass the risk on to taxi companies. The companies solve this by funneling money away from the staff.”
Harassment within transport companies Employers do that according to her, mainly by not paying public transport allowances, not paying for work clothes, paying only for part of the refueling and cleaning time and regularly setting aside working time as a break. “It is not allowed, but it will be done. For example, drivers who have driven for eight hours and have taken a half-hour break suddenly see that a 45-minute break has been registered. This quarter of an hour is then written off afterwards, which is easy due to the lack of control.” According to Panneman, drivers feel unfairly treated as a result.
Yet she states that many of them do not dare to raise this with their employer. “There is intimidation. If you complain a lot, some employers say: “Then you go work somewhere else.” And that despite the major driver shortage. I intervene in the breach especially for the people who do not dare to stand up for themselves in such cases.” On the other hand, it is often unclear where else abuses can be brought up. “We explain to people that if the collective labor agreement is not complied with, a complaint can be submitted to the Social Fund Mobility. A driver can also make an issue collectively with all colleagues and the union.”
Tax driver’s job ‘very nice’ Another option would be to submit the problem to the works council, explains Panneman. “However, at many companies there is no OR. The decisiveness of employees is often not there to make this happen, partly because of the intimidation and opposition from the management.” Panneman thinks this is a shame, because she knows what it is like to work in a company with a well-functioning Works Council. “Thanks to the Works Council, matters can be raised more easily at Connexxion, which means that progress is visible faster in certain areas. Within our company, there is a will to change where necessary.”
She grants all taxi drivers the open communication that goes on with her employer. She describes the profession itself as ‘great fun’. “You have a certain sense of responsibility. You are responsible for how you behave on the road, for the good treatment of your customers and a professional attitude. In addition, you see a lot of nature around you, the people you transport are very happy that they keep some mobility, and do not become dependent on the people around them.”
Hope for a better future Panneman sees herself doing her job with great pleasure in the coming years. And although it is not easy to bring about change within the industry, she is also happy to continue to contribute to FNV. “It would be good if the Mobility Social Fund could better monitor compliance with the collective labor agreement and that sanctions could also be imposed. But this is a matter of money and the collective agreement. Still, I have hope that the situation will change, to make taxi work more attractive. In any case, I will continue to work for this.”
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