Cabbies suspended after refusing to take health and safety training

More than 100 Bournemouth cab drivers have been suspended for failing to take a health and safety qualification.

They were suspended after refusing to take a BTEC qualification in tax driving, which covers topics such as how to lift heavy luggage, how to greet passengers, personal fitness and how to assess fares’ body language from the rear view mirror.

The cabbies are required to attend eight two-hour classes and are given three text books to help them master the course and revise for an exam.

One book uses speech bubbles with examples of greetings including: “Hello Mrs Smith” “Nice to see you again” and “Good morning, how are you”. However, the course also covers conflict management techniques, licensing regulations, route planning and disability awareness.

Some affected drivers, who did not wish to be named, branded the training “an idiot’s course”. One said: “You are even told how to say hello to a customer and lift luggage – it’s quite patronising really.”

But Bournemouth licensing board chairman, councillor Stephen Chappell, said the BTEC helped to ensure drivers are up to the job. “This qualification is vital to ensure our drivers are of a high standard and that residents and visitors receive the best possible service. Bournemouth council was the first authority to adopt the course as a requirement for the town’s taxi and private hire drivers.

“We are proud to be an authority which is leading the way by providing our drivers with this training. Almost 700 of our drivers have qualified. We have to take firm action against those who have not trained.”

A council spokeswoman said the banned cabbies have until 31 May to take the test. Most are self-employed.

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