Updated: Aug 28, 2021
Union leaders at the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) have described Uber’s public attempt to end the exploitation of thousands of drivers as ‘misinformed’ and ‘offensive to hardworking drivers’.
Yesterday the GMB Union and Uber announced that they were committed to ending the exploitation of more than 200,000 drivers who use ride hailing apps.
A meeting between Gary Smith, GMB General Secretary, and Uber’s Jamie Heywood, following the ground-breaking trade union recognition deal, took place to discuss plans moving forward to tackle exploitation within the gig economy.
Under the deal struck in May, the ride-hailing firm now formally recognises GMB, which means up to 70,000 Uber drivers across the UK can now be represented.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court determined Uber drivers are not self-employed, but are workers entitled to workers’ rights including holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and an entitlement to breaks.
But with more than 300,000 drivers working in the ride-hailing and the PHV industry, Uber’s and the GMB’s focus has now turned to an estimated 230,000 who are still not receiving their legal rights from other private hire operators.
Yesterday's announcement was however not a hit with all private hire driver representatives. The ADCU hit back, detailing long-standing concerns around the operator failing to implement the Supreme Court ruling by not paying waiting time which is about 40% of driver working time. A spokesperson from the union claimed that this excess of unpaid labour allows the private hire operator to drive down response time for customers whilst driving up congestion, pollution and poverty for drivers and their communities.
ADCU General Secretary, President and Supreme Court litigants James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, said: “We are appalled by Uber’s on-going PR campaign which deliberately misinforms the public and policy makers about its true position on worker rights.
“Uber continues to be in violation of UK employment law, is failing to implement the Supreme Court ruling and is engaged ongoing litigation against tens of thousands of drivers representing the majority of its workforce. It has started new litigation in the High Court against the ADCU and others to undermine the Supreme Court ruling, to avoid £2.5 billion in back VAT payments and to cut the link between worker rights and its duty to obey all laws as a publicly licensed transport operator.
“This corporate media campaign is not only offensive to hardworking Uber drivers but frankly, it is a propaganda campaign corrosive to the public interest.”
Liam Griffin, Addison Lee CEO, also distanced his firm away from the debate by saying: “Drivers are at the heart of Addison Lee’s business and we absolutely refute that they are being exploited. We have always acknowledged their contribution by paying the best rates and providing the best working practices in the industry.
“We guarantee the drivers that work with us get the London Living Wage level of earnings, as opposed to only the National Minimum Wage paid by Uber. Drivers working with Addison Lee also get access to a pension and holiday pay.
“The decline in driver earnings and overall wellbeing across the industry is a product of Uber’s operating practices and predatory pricing model, which has led to a race to the bottom and threatened driver livelihoods.”