Uber drivers in UK cities go on strike in protest over pay and workers' rights

Demonstrations part of global day of action against taxi firm ahead of $90bn stock market floatation

Ben Chapman
Tuesday 07 May 2019 07:55
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Uber protesters leave burning car blocking entrance to tourism fair in Madrid

A group of Uber drivers went on strike on Wednesday ahead of the minicab firm's $90bn stock market flotation.

Drivers in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow who are members of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), will observe a 9 hour boycott of the app between 7am and 4pm.

The drivers plan to log off the app and stage protests over Uber's failure to resolve pay issues.

The demonstrations are part of a global day of action by Uber drivers on 8 May.

IWGB is calling on the public to not cross the digital picket line by using the app to book Uber services on Wednesday.   

Uber's investors and founders stand to make billions of dollars overnight when the company sells shares publicly for the first time.

The union says that Uber's $90bn valuation is built on an unsustainable business model dependent on "worker exploitation, tax avoidance and regulatory arbitrage".

Since 2016, successive judgements from the Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal have said Uber drivers are entitled to basic worker rights, such as the minimum wage and holiday pay.

The company maintains that its drivers are self-employed.

Drivers going on strike on Wednesday are demanding an increase in fares from £1.25 to £2 per mile and a reduction of Uber's commission from 25 per cent to 15 per cent.

James Farrar, Chair of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union described Uber's business model as "abusive". 

Uber protesters leave burning car blocking entrance to tourism fair in Madrid

"It is the drivers who have created this extraordinary wealth but they continue to be denied even the most basic workplace rights," Mr Farrer said.

"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.”

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.”

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