UK union staged 24-hour strike in response to leaked Uber files – TechCrunch


The UK’s App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) staged a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to demand that Uber be held accountable for the findings of the Uber filings, a trove of thousands of leaked confidential documents that show how the company carpooling broke laws, secretly lobbied governments and exploited driver safety to grow aggressively from 2013 to 2017.

The ADCU asked drivers not to open the app on Wednesday and asked passengers not to use the service. The union also held a public protest at Uber UK’s head office at Aldgate Towers in London between midday and 2pm on Wednesday. The ADCU said there was “good compliance” from the picket line.

The union is demanding that Uber immediately obey the UK Supreme Court’s ruling on workers’ rights, which last year reclassified Uber drivers as workers. The judges ruled that Uber should contract directly with passengers when providing car rides to take more responsibility for each ride.

Additionally, the ADCU demands that Uber reimburse its drivers for back wages owed as a result of the court ruling; end “unethical political influence in the UK” and fire board member Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, a “convicted felon in France whose conduct endangers drivers and passengers was revealed in Uber records,” according to a statement from the union.

“Uber is desperate to whitewash the Uber file disclosures as sins of the distant past, but management’s behavior is as egregious as ever,” ADCU president Yaseen Aslam said in a statement. “Uber continues to challenge the Supreme Court’s decision to deny drivers their full rights to minimum wage and paid time off for all time worked. By making a partial settlement following the landmark decision, Uber took advantage of the vulnerable drivers, already impoverished by the pandemic, to induce them to settle for far less than was actually due and give up their statutory rights.

Uber has made some changes to the way it treats drivers in the UK after the Supreme Court ruling. In a regulatory filing, Uber said drivers would receive paid time off, be automatically enrolled in a pension plan, and earn at least minimum wage as a compensation floor.

However, the ADCU says these measures do not match Supreme Court and lower court rulings to pay drivers at least minimum wage after costs for all time worked, from sign-in to sign-out. Instead, Uber only counts hours and minutes between dispatch and drop-off, excluding wait time, which the union says leaves drivers about 40% short of their actual working time.

As well as ensuring drivers are paid during downtime, the union is demanding Uber raise fares to £2.50 per mile and 20p per minute and Uber’s commission be capped at £15 %, instead of the current 25%.

Uber’s records have also shed light on the ride-sharing giant’s political influence. For example, back when French President Emmanuel Macron was economy minister, he was by his first name with former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and appears to have helped change policy in favor of Uber. .

The ADCU has expressed concern over Uber’s targeting of Labor MPs like Rachel Reeves and Yvette Cooper. The union says Uber executives attended Labor Party conference events last year, and Uber recently hired Princess Bright, a Labor Party adviser. In addition to demanding that Uber end all “corrupt political influence”, the union is also demanding that politicians pledge not to engage in influence with Uber until the company can demonstrate that she’s on her best behavior.

Uber files also show Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, who is now in charge of Uber Eats, exchanging text messages with other executives about Uber’s “kill switch.” The kill switch was typically activated when law enforcement knocked on the door and allowed Uber to restrict agents’ access to sensitive company data. This was part of Gore-Coty’s “Enforcement Playbook”.

The union argues that by employing a senior executive involved in activity aimed at thwarting regulatory oversight in the UK or any other jurisdiction, Uber breaches a 2018 license condition.

Among those demands, James Farrar, general secretary of the ADCU and former Uber driver, also called on whistleblower, former Uber lobbyist Mark McCann, to give first-hand testimony about what was happening at inside the company.

Uber posits that it has ensured that drivers earn a living wage after expenses, as well as paid time off, which is distributed weekly in cash, and pension contributions. This has been going on since May 2021, and since then eligible drivers have received more £100million in pension contributions and £185.5million in holiday pay from Uber, according to a company spokesperson.

“With increased demand following the pandemic, Uber drivers are earning more than ever – in Q1 2022 they were earning an average of £29.72, including paid time off, when actively engaged on app,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. “The combination of higher earnings, new protections such as paid leave and a pension and union recognition in the UK has led to over 10,000 new drivers signing up with Uber in recent months.”

The strike lasted from midnight to midnight. It is not known how many drivers and passengers participated.

Tech

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