Updated: Feb 5
A private hire drivers' union has demanded the Mayor of London ban Uber’s introduction of 'predatory' pay and pricing algorithms in the capital.
This week Uber introduced dynamic pricing to London which sees algorithms utilise driver and personal data, including personal profiling to automatically set variable pay for drivers and fares for passengers.
The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) claims the move is part of a global strategy for the minicab platform operator to boost profitability for shareholders as growth slows. Uber has been progressively moving from a transparent fare and pay structure based on time, distance and commission to one that is variable, opaque and algorithmically controlled.
It is alleged that the technology push will place vulnerable customers at risk of not being able to book the service when they most need it and drivers will be more at risk of unfair exploitation.
Union officials are concerned that drivers may be targeted based on their willingness and ability to accept lower fares which may yield below the minimum wage.
The ADCU is set to stage a demonstration against Transport for London (TfL) to demand action against Uber’s dynamic pricing model on Tuesday 7 February at 11am outside TfL’s Palestra House.
James Farrar, ADCU General Secretary, said: “The Mayor and Transport for London failed in their duty when they gave Uber the green light to set loose such dangerous and predatory algorithms in what is supposed to be a closely regulated market.
“Passengers and drivers are, directly and indirectly, unfairly targeted for personal auto-exploitation. Vulnerable passengers are placed at risk when service is denied or unfairly priced while driver pay is unfairly held down by means of employer tacit collusion and with individuals targeted for black and grey listing.
“In post Brexit Britain, where the government plans to strip away the few protections we have against algorithmic abuse, the Mayor must step now forward and insist on high standards of data protection for London passengers and workers.
“We call on the Mayor to immediately ban the use of dynamic pricing algorithms in the regulated London minicab market.”