On Wednesday, about 400 Uber drivers attended a protest and rally outside of the company’s London offices in Aldgate. The protest was part of a 24-hour national strike for Uber drivers organised by The App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) that took place all day yesterday.
Uber drivers are facing an unprecedented cost of living crisis due to fuel inflation running at 44%, vehicle costs up 28% and household inflation up 7.8%. Yet Uber has failed to either obey the Supreme Court ruling in full which would protect workers or otherwise raise fares and pay in line with inflation of operating costs. This means that the most precarious workers in Britain have been exposed to the ravages of plummeting incomes and purchasing power. Meanwhile, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will earn £45 million this year: or, in other words, £21,000 per hour.
Abdurzak Hadi, ADCU London Chair said:
Uber drivers have never been worse off than they are right now. Drivers have been exposed to hyperinflation while Uber refuses to either obey the Supreme Court ruling which protects workers or raise fares and pay to offset inflation of their operating costs. This is beyond greed, Uber has placed its workforce in very dangerous circumstances and the result is driver overwork, declining mental health and families in great distress. I implore the government to dismiss the Uber spin and urgently intervene to enforce the law against what is an increasingly out-of-control company.
The union is demanding:
- Uber comply with the Supreme Court ruling and pay drivers at least the minimum wage and holiday pay for all working time from log on to log off. Currently Uber is only prepared to pay the minimum wage after costs from the point of dispatch to drop off but not including standby time which is around 40% of working time. Uber has not adjusted the costs calculations used for the calculation of the minimum wage despite runaway inflation for fuel and operating costs.
- Uber must raise fares to £2.50 per mile and £0.20 per minute. Fares on Tuesday evening were being offered in central London at £1.06 per mile and £0.10 per minute. These are historically low fares.
- Uber must end its practice of unfair dismissals. Drivers are often flagged for summary dismissal by automated means and are denied any proper due process of investigation, appeal or representation. This in turn can lead to licensing action by local licensing authorities and drivers having to explain why they were fired with Uber often failing to even disclose the reasons.
- Uber must obey the UK GDPR and provide full algorithmic transparency, so drivers understand how they have been profiled, performance managed and on what basis they have been either allocated work or had it withheld.
Met police collusion with Uber
The ADCU has separately complained to the Mayor of London and the Metropolitan Police after an internal memo from the building management at Uber London offices was leaked to the union. The leaked letter suggests that Uber is in collaboration with the Met Police to provide intelligence on the union, the strike action and the planned protest. The union has asked the Mayor of London to intervene to demand that the Met immediately cease any such intelligence gathering on lawful trade union activity. We await a response from the Mayor and the Met.
OECD complaint against Uber
Last week, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development published its decision to accept a complaint filed by the ADCU as part of the International Alliance of App-based Transport Workers (IAATW). The IAATW complain that Uber is in breach of the OECD guidelines which has caused detriment to IAATW member unions in the UK, Costa Rica, India, Nigeria, Panama, South Africa, and Uruguay. The complaint alleges that Uber has failed to pay drivers fairly & transparently, has by practice unfairly dismissed drivers without proper process and has failed to ensure the health and safety of drivers at work. The complaint is the first global complaint of its kind made collectively on behalf of gig economy workers.