Socialist Worker

Uber drivers speak out after firm appeals tribunal ruling

Uber drivers in London spoke to Alistair Farrow about the reality of life working for the controversial firm

Issue No. 2574

Uber Eats workers on strike in London last year

Uber Eats workers on strike in London last year (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Taxi firm Uber has appealed an employment tribunal ruling that it has to treat its drivers as workers and not as self-employed

As the appeal began on Wednesday of last week, some 300 people marched through central London.

The appeal came days after Transport for London (TfL) refused to renew Uber’s licence for operating in London.

One Uber driver, Syed, told Socialist Worker about the reality of life working for Uber.

“The average driver gets £12 to £14 an hour,” he said.

“But then you have to pay for your licence, your car payments, your insurance, about 20 different costs in total. I’m left with £5 an hour.”

On top of that, said Syed, “If a customer says to Uber, ‘The driver took a different route,’ Uber straight away takes 25 to 30 percent of the fare and refunds it to the passenger.

“I have a 4.71 out of five approval rating from customers.

“I’ve driven over 5,000 journeys in five years working for Uber. If I drop below 4.7 I stand a good chance of being deactivated.”

Responsibility

If TfL was interested in sorting out the industry, it should have addressed all these issues and more. It must take responsibility for what happens next.

Uber has a long history of refusing to be accountable.

In Quebec in Canada it has announced it will stop operating in the city after the government demanded it train drivers more. In California the firm refused to hand over evidence in a sexual harassment case when ordered to by a court.

In another case in California the company offered little help to a woman driver who was sexually assaulted in her car.

Yaseen Aslam, one of the drivers who brought the initial case to the employment tribunal, spoke to Socialist Worker.

“Whatever verdict the judge delivers is going to have a massive impact, not just on us but on thousands of workers,” he said.

The ruling could be delivered as far away as December. Uber relies on its money and powerful friends to smooth things over when it ruffles feathers in the cities it operates in.

For instance, Theresa May criticised TfL’s decision on Thursday of last week.

But there is trouble at the top of the firm.

Founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick declared two new board members out of the blue, going over the head of other board members.

That has deepened divisions at the top, which leaves the firm increasingly vulnerable to pressure from below.

 


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