Taxi drivers

Taxi drivers share horror stories of racism and alcohol abuse amid strike

Taxi drivers spoke of the horrific issues they face every week, including racism, aggressive drunks, passed out customers and vomiting.

Taxi drivers shine a light on the difficult and sometimes dangerous situations they face, which make them more vulnerable than ever.

Drivers in Leeds took part in a 24-hour strike today (January 18), organized by the Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organization (LPHDO), in opposition to a back-up policy by Leeds City Council.

They claim the suitability and convictions policy, designed to ‘protect the public’, means a driver could lose their license for ‘minor issues’.

Leeds Live met drivers during the 24-hour strike at the Burley Road car park and interviewed them about the harrowing situations they found themselves in that left them vulnerable.

“You don’t belong here, you’re not a Yorkshireman!” a passenger shouted at Bradford-born and raised Zahid Mahmood last week, who has been a taxi driver for around 24 years.

At the time, there were eight passengers in the car, and Zahid just wanted to focus on getting them “from A to B” without any further problems.



Zahid Mahmood spoke about the abuse he faced as a taxi driver.

“The abuse we endure every night is unbelievable,” said Zahid, vice president of the LPHDO and father of four, who adds that they also regularly receive racial slurs.

Zahid says the abusive behavior is regular but ‘the worst is when they vomit in the car’ which leaves a driver with a filthy interior meaning he can’t work for the rest of the night because it needs to get it professionally cleaned.

The father-of-four said it happened at least once a week, with many other drivers present agreeing.

Zahid went on to say, “A lot of times we pick up drunk customers, you take them to their destination and by the time they get there they’re asleep.



Drivers agreed that passengers vomit in their cars at least once a week.
Drivers agreed that passengers vomit in their cars at least once a week.

“If it’s a vulnerable young woman, there’s nothing you can do – you can’t even try to wake her up. All you can do is try and shout out loud and if they don’t wake up, what are you supposed to do then?

“According to the suitability policy, if she says we touched her in any way, that’s it, our badge is gone.”

The taxi driver added that he regularly finds small plastic bags, those used for drugs, and metal canisters, used for laughing gas, rattling in his taxi.



Ahmad Hussain was punched in the head while driving his taxi.
Ahmad Hussain was punched in the head while driving his taxi.

LPHDO chairman Ahmad Hussain paid over £600 to have CCTV in his taxi to protect himself in sticky situations.

Ahmad said he “was only assaulted with a few punches to the top of the head”, these incidents pale in comparison to other stories he has heard.

LPHDO chairman Ahmad Hussain paid over £600 to have CCTV in his taxi to protect himself in sticky situations.

Ahmad said he “was only assaulted with a few punches to the top of the head”, these incidents pale in comparison to other stories he has heard.



This driver talked about a scary trip with football fans.
This driver talked about a scary trip with football fans.

Another striking driver said he recently felt vulnerable picking up football fans from Elland Road and driving them to Pontefract.

He claimed drunken fans disagreed with his itinerary and called him racial slurs, pestering him to find out where he was from.

“Put yourself in my place, you have four big guys in the car. Leeds lost the game. You take them to an area you have no idea about,” he said.

As the situation grew increasingly intense, he stopped the car and told them to leave.

He claimed they called him a “P***” and a “black bitch” and hit his car.

Leeds City Council has previously said the suitability and convictions policy is essential because the local authority is “entitled and required to treat the safety of the public as the priority”.

The strike was due to end at 6 a.m. Tuesday, January 18.

Don’t miss the latest news from across Scotland and beyond – sign up for our daily newsletter here.