Detacher Taxiwerq, trade union FNV and Taxicentrale Amsterdam (TCA) want the taxi sector to tackle its staff shortage together with the government. Attention must also be paid to employment conditions and work pressure, they state in the most recent episode of TaxiPro TV.

Die episode was entirely dominated by the driver shortage in the taxi industry. Wilbert Wijnne, commercial director of Taxiwerq, explained that before the corona crisis, the secondment agency never experienced serious problems due to a shortage of taxi drivers. However, when the demand for taxi transport declined due to corona, the number of drivers leaving the industry increased at an unprecedented rate.

The number of vacancies now open on the Taxiwerq job site exceeds the number of job seekers, according to him well. “There are now 17, of which roughly three quarters concern transport on fixed routes, such as school transport.” Nevertheless, the secondment company has decided to formulate the vacancy requirements more sharply . “So that people really understand what they are getting into. You want to prevent candidates from starting and then dropping out because of something simple, such as that the work does not suit their home situation.” According to him, this works. The intake is lower, but the percentage that completes the training and eventually does taxi work is higher.

Taxiwerq did notice something about this influx of drivers. “Where we used to be the last door where people knocked for work, we recently noticed that a large part of the candidates indicated that they wanted to do temporary taxi work. Their hearts were still with their old work.” In such cases, according to Wijnne, it is Taxiwerq’s task to ensure that they develop a passion for taxi work. “This works for some,” he says. “But the proportion that return to their old job as soon as the opportunity arises is higher.”

Different approach to tenders In order to allow people to re-enter, to allow old drivers to return and to prevent such an underutilization in the future, the current driver shortage must now be tackled broadly, according to Wijnne. “Everyone plays a part in this. The unions, governments, clients.” He also specifically refers to tenders. “These must be put on the market at good prices, with good requirements and conditions.”

FNV Taxi driver Meindert Gorter agrees that the problem must be tackled jointly, but emphasizes that not everything can be put aside for tenders. “I think the industry has really created a problem of its own. When people are not doing well at work, the taxi industry is the last place they go to find another job. This says something about this market.” According to him, something should be done about this in particular.

Increased pressure but no extra appreciation “Although healthcare transport is a very nice profession and it carries out a social task, you can better deliver packages under terms of employment,” says Gorter. “You earn more with that.” What he sees as the main consequence of the driver shortage among the remaining members of FNV Taxi is the pressure they experience at work. “For example, they have contracts for twenty hours, but they are deployed for forty hours. That does something to people.” However, according to him, they are not extra rewarded. “It would be good for employers if they looked at how they deal with employment conditions and the availability of people in other sectors. That would create a completely different view, which would also give you better employment conditions.”

Too old to invest The branch of the taxi industry that has been hit hardest by corona is the street taxi market. Taxicentrale Amsterdam (TCA) has nevertheless managed to hold its own. Director Hedy Borreman explains that TCA has lost one third of the connected drivers since the crisis. The aging population has also played a part in this, she says. “We had drivers who are elderly. They often indicated that they no longer wanted to invest in a new vehicle and that they would use their own capital for the few years that they were still driving.”

But TCA has also found that drivers made the switch to other branches or started working somewhere in paid employment. However, now that the measures are being relaxed again, work is increasing again and some drivers are gradually rejoining. For now, TCA manages with the current driver file. “Self-employed drivers do have the work to sort out, so they don’t necessarily opt for our rides. That is a challenge for us if this shortage continues. If we don’t get our rides out on a structural basis, we will start another recruitment campaign.”

Make taxi driver a real profession again Borreman agrees with the gentlemen that the taxi industry sometimes seems like the drain of society. The TCA director finds it worrying that if someone cannot find another job, the UWV says that he or she can become a taxi driver. According to her, the government has contributed to this by canceling certain training courses. “Something has to be done about this, so that more quality comes in and that taxi driver becomes a real profession again. We also see tenders that really go below market prices. We drive at the national meter price, which is converted a lot higher than the kilometer prices that governments use in tenders. With some tenders I really think: you can’t normally pay drivers for that.”

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