The drivers are asking the tech giant to honour a high court ruling to treat them as workers rather than as self-employed
- Uber drivers will be striking against their working conditions
- They are also asking the public to boycott the app
Uber drivers will be taking to the streets across the UK to call for better wages and the end of unfair dismissals as the company makes its debut on the stock market.
Drivers across Nottingham, Birmingham, London and Glasgow are asking members of the public to boycott the service between 7am and 4pm on 8 May to challenge their pay and work conditions after Uber was valued at £70bn on the stock market.
Uber drivers earn £5 an hour on average
While the public listing of the multi-billion pound company means investors in the Silicon Valley company will be able to profit, thousands of Uber drivers feel they are paying an unfair price for the company’s success.
The branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) representing Uber drivers and United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD), says Uber drivers currently earn on average £5 per hour and work as much as 30 hours per week before breaking even.
And while Uber is under the spotlight, the union is encouraging workers to take to the picket lines during lunch time.
They will be joined by workers in the United States from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance will strike from 7am to 9am local time, reported BBC News.
The workers will be striking with several demands in mind.
The IWGB are asking for Uber’s commissions on each ride to be reduced from 25 per cent to 15 per cent, and for fares to be increased to £2 a mile from on average £1.25 a mile.
They are also demanding an end to unfair dismissals and for Uber to respect the rulings of the Employment Tribunal, The Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal confirming “worker” status for drivers.
IWGB UPHD branch secretary Yaseen Aslam said drivers are being pushed to work over 60 hours a week to get by.
“Since Uber arrived to the UK in 2012, it has progressively driven down pay and conditions in the minicab sector,” he said.
“Now, a handful of investors are expected to get filthy rich off the back of the exploitation of these drivers on poverty wages. We are protesting today demanding that the company pay drivers a decent wage and that government authorities tackle Uber’s chronic unlawful behaviour,” he added.
IWGB UPHD branch chair James Farrar, who is joining workers on the picket lines in London today, said: “It is the drivers who have created this extraordinary wealth but they continue to be denied even the most basic workplace rights.
“We call on the public not to cross the digital picket line on 8 May but to stand in solidarity with impoverished drivers across the world who have made Uber so successful.”
Rise and fall of the gig economy?
Uber may have been told to treat their employees as workers in December, but not a lot has changed in the five months since.
The company lost its appeal against a landmark gig economy ruling, after senior judges determined its drivers were classified as workers and not self-employed.
Under this ruling, Uber is responsible for paying its drivers national minimum wage, sick and holiday pay, which they do not currently receive.
Tim Roache, general secretary of the taxt driver union GMB – which helped to bring the original case against the company in 2016 – said: “We’re now at a hat-trick of judgements against Uber. They keep appealing and keep losing.
“Uber should accept the verdict and stop trying to find loopholes that deprive people of their hard-won rights and pay.”
Uber: ‘We offer more flexibility’
Uber, however, said it will “continue working to the improve the experience before and with drivers”.
The company has said it offers more flexibility than taxi firms because there is no fixed fee to use the Uber app (unlike weekly radio fees charged by other operators) and licensed drivers can log on and off as they please.
With the app, drivers can choose if, when and where they drive and are free to work with other local operators as well, Uber said.
An Uber spokeswoman said: “Drivers are at the heart of our service─we can’t succeed without them─and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road. Whether it’s being able to track your earnings or stronger insurance protections, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers.”