After Albert Zeef ended his job at the Hollandsche Bank-Unie five years ago, he started as a taxi driver at Taxi Hoeksewaard. He developed a love for the profession, but the new rules regarding driving and rest times have recently reduced his job satisfaction. His solution: another collective labor agreement for smaller taxi companies.

“Taxi work is very different from my previous job, which I started when I was eighteen”, says Zeef . “I worked at the bank in various departments, but for the last fifteen years I worked as a payment transactions advisor for the business community.” To go to business relations throughout the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, he was often on the road. However, during a reorganization, Zeef had to leave. “I was 14 years old at the time and I thought I could still work with my papers and the fact that I speak several languages. But the opposite turned out: everywhere I was seen as too old.”

For two years he applied for various jobs and also did voluntary work at a care institution and a foundation for multiple handicapped children on the wheelchair bus. . “However, when the end of my unemployment benefits came in sight, I started to think more and more about what I like to do. I soon arrived at driving and human contact. I also wanted a job without stress. Taxi work fitted in well with this and I decided to take the plunge and apply for a job at Taxi Hoeksewaard.”

Diversity in work Drivers were still being sought at this taxi company, so Zeef was allowed to start immediately after his exam. “The first times in the taxi were strange. The work is different from what I was used to: less thinking but also less stress. Because the planners give us plenty of time for the routes, I never really experienced work pressure.” What he likes about the job is the interaction with customers and the variety in the work. “We provide student and hospital transport, local and business transport. We also do courier work: delivering parcels urgently from A to B for various companies in the Netherlands and part of Belgium and Germany. This diversity makes the work more interesting and gave a sense of security in times of corona.”

Customer no longer king The irregular hours, on the other hand, are not always easy for him. “But it’s my sandwich and the customer is king,” he says. According to him, the latter is becoming less and less the case because people have to work in Maxflex and block services. “As a smaller taxi organization you have to be able to operate flexibly and your drivers must also be flexible. If you have to divide your staff into blocks in advance, this is no longer the case, and certainly not if this has to be known some time in advance. This is unfeasible for planning in a smaller organization.”

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Zeef speaks of three peaks in the work: the morning, afternoon and evening peak. “A driver can get a block in the morning and then have to log out before two hours. The planner then has to pray that no customer unexpectedly calls for a taxi in that interval. If this is the case, the customer will have to wait. However, the business customer is looking for an alternative solution and you as a company have lost it.”

Using drivers Maxflex is also )not an option for a small business. “Even if there is no work, we still have to be paid, without there being any income in return. This could lead to bankruptcy.” He speaks of the drop that can make the bucket overflow. “Certainly after the recent period, in which we first had to deal with less income due to corona, insurance premiums became unaffordable for taxis and company cars and diesel prices have risen enormously.”

Cafeteria model as outcome According to Zeef, no one benefits from the new rules. “In the past, drivers were not paid on balance for the idle hours in between, but there was regularly something to do during those hours. This resulted in some extras. Now the drivers sit still for at least two hours and are not paid either.” Moreover, he states that the new system produces angry customers. “The customer would now be allowed to wait longer than was usual, namely fifteen minutes. This makes them dissatisfied and the driver is the first to hear about this.”

For larger companies, working in blocks or Maxflex services may be doable, but for smaller companies according to not him. Working through the cafeteria model, in his opinion, is the outcome. “For smaller organizations up to a certain number of drivers, a different CLA applies than for larger organisations: namely the old CLA but with a higher salary. The company must choose one of the two collective labor agreements in consultation with the drivers. This makes the profession a lot more attractive, which is of great importance in view of the current driver shortage in the industry .”

Saving the industry Zeef’s hope is that something will change in time. “Older drivers will retire early due to the new rules and drivers who have already retired will stop, at the expense of the entire taxi industry.” Zeef himself has to work for another two years until he has reached retirement age. However, he states that if the company he works for goes bankrupt, he will also retire early. “But I would prefer the industry to be saved and to become attractive again for the younger driver. The various collective labor agreements can help with this.”

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