Socialist Worker

Uber strikers rage against low pay and unfair dismissals

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2774

Strikers rallying in London

Strikers rallying in London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Uber drivers across Britain refused to work for 24 hours on Tuesday in a strike for pay and against unfair dismissals.

Members of the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) noisily protested in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow.

The workers have three demands. They are pay for all working time including waiting time, to end upfront pricing while the firm is raising commission and an end to unfair dismissals.

The strike follows a court ruling that forced Uber bosses to pay their drivers while they waited for a new customer. But workers claim Uber hasn’t implemented the ruling.

ADCU general secretary, James Farrar told Socialist Worker, “We had three options, to ask the government to enforce the law—that isn’t happening—or to go to court, but Uber aren’t obeying the court order. So now we’re left with no option but to strike.”

Unpaid

Striking driver, Ibrahim who works in London, told Socialist Worker that typically 40 percent of his day is spent waiting—which is unpaid.

He said, “I’ve been on the same money for seven years, there has been no change. Prices for petrol and other things have gone up.

“So we aren’t working today to show Uber that they need to understand their workers.”

The workers are also fighting to introduce fixed price fares to replace variable fares which force many workers to receive less income and greater financial risk. Some striking drivers held placards reading, “£2 per mile.”

Driver Phillip showed Socialist Worker his driver app. He was offered just £85 for a 110 mile journey from Heathrow Airport to Broadstairs, east Kent. After petrol costs and the drive back to London, it isn’t worthwhile.

“I have only accepted one percent of jobs offered to me on Uber because it just isn’t worth my time,” he told Socialist Worker.

“The union recognise this and tell us to drive electric cars to save on petrol costs but fares haven’t gone up since 2016—this is just too expensive.”

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Phillip is angry that some of his colleagues have been unfairly dismissed based on zero real evidence.

Many put this down to Uber’s introduction of an identification and surveillance system which has led to drivers being dismissed without the right of appeal.

Yaseen Aslam, ADCU president said, “It is shameful that Uber continues to defy the highest court in the land to cheat 70,000 workers out of pay for 40 percent of their true working time.

“The drivers know they deserve and are legally entitled to much more than Uber is offering.

“This strike is just the beginning and there will be much more unrest until Uber does the right thing and pay drivers all that they are owed.”

Farrar added, “We need to keep up the pressure and keep striking but we also need solidarity and help from consumers.

“Consumers need to understand the exploitation drivers face—we need to think why are some train tickets cheaper than a Uber fare.”


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