TAXI drivers have slammed operators' 'shameful' proposal to increase radio rental charge as the row over pay continues.

The statement from the Bolton Private Hire Drivers’ Association came after operators revealed they would increase the fare price by 10 per cent in April, from £2.30 to £2.50.

The group confirmed it was still pushing to increase prices to £2.80, which drivers claim is in line with the inflation rate.

A spokesman said: "On January 15, the operators called the BPHA to the meeting to inform us that they will not increase the fare to £2.80 but to £2.50, as well as scrapping the proposed £5 increase in radio rental charges for the drivers.

“Not only that, they also informed us that they have decided to increase the rent on drivers by five per cent.

“They are using this opportunity to make even more money out of their drivers which we think is quite shameful.

"The BPHA proposal to the operators regarding the fares is £2.80. Furthermore increasing 10p every year in line with the rate of inflation for that year. Plus no radio rent increase this year."

An hour-long walkout took place in December, as a number of drivers staged a peaceful protest in a bid to force an increase in fares.

The association appealed to operators to engage with the drivers and stated it does not promote strike action unless all avenues have been explored.

Asif Vali, chairman of the Private Hire Operators’ Association, said: “We had already agreed to look at an increase at our quarterly meeting in October and had planned to hold a meeting in January.

“Operators have agreed to increase fares by at least 10 per cent. All our members charge different fares and this is a minimum percentage increase on that.

“Drivers were asking for a rise of more than 50 per cent, but customers would not accept that. The increase in fares will go to the drivers and is above the rate of inflation.

Mr Vali said an increase in admin charges was up to the individual operator but would not rise by more than a nominal fee, with some thinking about £5 extra.

He explained: “Advertising is a big expense and we expect customers to shop around so more will have to be spent on publicity and associated costs.”

The association represents 18 out of the 25 private hire companies in Bolton.