Uber Drivers Launch Strikes Across England

Oct 9, 2018

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Uber drivers across England have launched a massive daylong strike on Tuesday in protest of low pay and unfair working conditions.

The strike, which was called to start at 1pm GMT time, is to last 24 hours and take place in three different cities.

The Independent Works Union of Great Britain (IWGB) organized the strike and says it expects hundreds of drivers to not sign-in to the Uber app today. Drivers are rallying outside of Uber’s offices in Birmingham, London and Nottingham. The walkout comes just months after Uber was granted access to operate in London again.

IWGB also hoped the public would not “cross the digital picket line” by refraining from using the ridesharing app Tuesday. Although the strike seems large, it’s unclear if riders will notice any difference in wait times — especially in large cities like London where there are more than 40,000 drivers on the platform.

Videos of the protest are emerging on social media, which show drivers chanting “Shame on Uber!”

Uber drivers are protesting low pay, unfair app deactivation (which essentially “fires” the driver) and other unfair working conditions. A driver complained that he sometimes has to wait three hours to get paired with a rider in Birmingham because the app is flooded with too many drivers. Uber drivers in New York City had raised similar issues, which led to a cap on rideshare vehicles in the city.

Drivers also want to see a pay increase from £1.25 per mile driven to £2 per mile in addition to Uber lowering the commission that it takes from fares from 25% to 15%. Similar to legal battles in the US, the IWGB wants Uber drivers to be classified as full-time “limb (b)” workers rather than independent contractors so they can qualify for other benefits.

“After years of watching take home pay plummet and with management bullying of workers on the rise, workers have been left with no choice but to take strike action,” said James Farrar of IWGB.

In 2017, a UK court ordered Uber to give its workers holidays, a living wage, sick pay and other benefits after the court found that Uber drivers are employees, and not self-employed. IWGB and drivers want Uber to implement these changes now, but Uber is appealing the issue.

“We are always looking to make improvements to ensure drivers have the best possible experience and can make the most of their time driving on the app,” a spokeswoman for Uber told The Independent. “That’s why over the last few months we’ve introduced dozens of new features, including sickness, injury, maternity and paternity protections. An academic study last month found that drivers in London make an average of £11 an hour, after accounting for all of their costs and Uber’s service fee.”

The spokeswoman said the company continues to look at ways to increase driver earnings, and its door is always open to talk about any driver concerns.

H/T: The Independent

Featured image by Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images.

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