The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is bringing employment status, holiday pay, minimum wage and unlawful deduction of wages claims against three private hire companies this week, demonstrating that the problem of exploitation in the UK’s private hire industry stretches far beyond Uber.
The IWGB has this week filed cases against London’s self-proclaimed “ethical” operator Green Tomato Cars, Germany’s fastest growing start-up Blacklane and Birmingham’s largest private hire operator A2B.
In all three cases the companies denied the drivers, all members of IWGB’s United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch, basic employment rights by classifying them as independent contractors rather than workers. Workers have a right to the minimum wage, holiday pay, rest breaks and the right not to work more than 48hrs a week, among other rights.
IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “The wide scale depravation of employment rights is not unique to Uber, it is rampant across the private hire sector in the UK. With these actions the IWGB is stepping up its campaign to have private hire drivers recognised as the workers they are and enjoying the rights to which they are legally entitled.”
The claim is for worker status, unlawful deduction of wages, holiday pay and breach of the working time regulations. The London-based claimant regularly worked a variety of contracts for the company, from Uber-style pay-per-trip, to fixed shifts with hourly pay.
One of these contracts involved working twelve hour shifts, without breaks, over five days. By not giving the driver breaks and by making him work for more than 48hrs without signing an opt-out, the company is in breach of the working time regulations.
The driver was also paid for less than a day of a five day contract, which amounts to unlawful deduction of wages.
The claim is for worker status, unlawful deduction of wages and holiday pay. Blacklane unlawfully deducted a total of £242 from the Glasgow-based driver for two separate incidents, including a two-week unpaid suspension following allegations that the driver had an Uber insignia and a taxi plate on his car. All private hire vehicles are required to have a taxi plate by Glasgow City Council.
The driver was also required to wear a company tie and pin at all times.
The claim is for worker status, minimum wage and holiday pay. The Birmingham-based driver was regularly paid below the minimum wage, required to wear a uniform and have six A2B signs on the car. The obligation to wear a uniform and use a company-labelled car would prevent the driver from working for other private hire companies.