Uber right to strike?

Uber staged its 24-hour strike yesterday, but are they right to strike?

BBC News

Uber gives drivers sick pay and benefits

Ride-hailing firm Uber will give its European drivers access to medical cover and compensation for work-related injuries.

The new protections include sick pay, parental leave and bereavement payments.

Uber said it previously "focused too much on growth and not enough on the people who made that growth possible".

"We called drivers 'partners', but didn't always act like it," said Uber's chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi.

The insurance and compensation package will be available to all Uber drivers and Uber Eats delivery couriers across Europe.

However, unions have questioned whether the package is new.

In April 2017, Uber announced illness and injury insurance cover for its drivers.

'Not nearly enough'

Uber drivers who wanted to join the scheme were required to pay £2 a week.

"I'm highly suspicious - is this a revamp, is this another bite of the cherry to make themselves look caring. What's the story here?" said Steve Garelick, regional organiser for the gig economy and transport for GMB union.

James Farrar, chair of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union, told the BBC: "This is not nearly enough. We have statutory rights under the law. What Uber has given us are cosmetic benefits that can be taken away at any time."

Uber's announcement comes before an appeal hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court on 25 June, where a judge will decide whether Transport for London (TfL) should renew Uber's private hire operating licence in London.

TfL withdrew Uber's operating licence in September on the grounds of "public safety and security implications".

Uber has been allowed to continue operating in the city while it appealed against the decision.

Uber said it will provide drivers with a range of insurance coverage and compensation resulting from accidents or injuries that occur while they are working, as well as protection for "major life events" that happen whether the driver is on a shift or not.

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Uber right to strike?

By Jim Scott

Hundreds of Uber drivers across the UK staged a 24-hour strike on Tuesday October 9 as they turned off their mobile phones just after lunchtime in a revolt against pay and working conditions. Technically self-employed, Uber drivers are licensed and insured by Uber. Drivers rely on a specially designed application which connects those in need of a taxi, with a driver nearby. Drivers then choose whether they want the work and can turn off the app at any time which gives them flexibility over working hours.

Recently, an independent workers union the UPHD, called for an end to Uber bosses being able to "deactivate" drivers, increase in fares and a ten percent reduction in commission. But as drivers currently have ultimate flexibility, do Uber drivers have the right to strike?

Since its inception in 2009, Uber has revolutionised taxi travel for people across the world. It was the first app to be adopted by most taxi-users because it didn’t need users to pay their driver with cash. And since then, it has been debated several times whether Uber drivers should adhere to the same rights as other taxi drivers. Towards the end of 2017, Uber lost a high-profile court case which ruled Uber drivers should in fact be treated as workers, despite their self-employed status, as BBC News explains.

Several months later, one Uber driver told the Huffington Post their reasons behind the strike. Blaming, high operating costs and "ridiculously" low fares were amongst some of the main issues. The driver, who remained anonymous, also said it was his first Uber strike and he was striking because he had to work 70 and 80 hours every week "just to break-even".

However, despite being classed "self-employed" under official UK law. Uber lost its right to class drivers this, last year. This meant Uber did not have the rights to "revoke" licenses without the legal right to do so. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) attributed Uber’s high level of control over drivers to the fact that drivers were in fact workers. Employment Law experts, Hugh James explained drivers are only given 10 seconds to accept a booking through its app. Which if drivers fail to consistently do, can reportedly lead to the suspension of a driver, or access to the app revoked altogether.

A day before the strike, Uber UK drivers urged other drivers "not to cross the digital picket line". The Guardian reported there had been a "mass discontent among drivers" due to the number of new Uber vehicles on Britain’s streets, saturation, which makes it harder for individuals to get a constant flow of customers.

It is estimated there are more than 45,000 Uber drivers in London. City AM reported the figure makes up more than a third of London’s 114,000 private taxi drivers. But in response to this growing figure. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan pledged he would investigate ways to reduce congestion and ultimately pollution in the capital.

The Guardian reported the London Mayor wrote to Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling about Uber and said he was: "Determined to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market in the capital, with space for all providers to flourish.

"The huge increase in private hire drivers on London’s roads in recent years is causing increased congestion, polluting our air and leaving many drivers struggling to make enough money to support themselves and their families."

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Daily Telegraph

Report reveals Uber drivers make £11 per hour, £4 less than company's claim before driver costs

Uber drivers are taking home £11 an hour, £4 less than the company's estimates before driver costs but 80p more than the London Living Wage, according to new research.

A report from Oxford University, which for the first time used internal data supplied by Uber, found drivers are making £11 an hour after costs such as fuel and licencing, while working an average of 30 hours per week.

The report comes as Uber faces scrutiny over its role in the capital's growing gig economy. The income puts average drivers just above the London Living Wage of £10.20 per hour.

The findings were welcomed by Uber, which has faced calls from unions to reveal how much drivers earn and claims some fail to hit the national minimum wage due to the unpredictable nature of bookings when logged into its app.

Uber's head of public policy Andrew Byrne told MPs last year drivers made up to £15 per hour before costs. He estimated drivers could earn around £9.50 per hour after.

He said he did not know how many of its 50,000 riders were failing to make the minimum wage. Uber takes a 25pc cut of most rides.

Uber UK general manager Tom Elvidge said: "It’s encouraging that drivers make more than the London Living Wage and want to keep the freedom of being their own boss, but we know there’s more to do."

Ride-hailing apps and delivery firms including Uber, Deliveroo and Addison Lee have all been embroiled in debates over workers rights and the gig economy. A series of employment tribunals have seen workers and unions calling for employee rights such as holiday pay, while the app-based companies claim their working patterns give greater flexibility.

The Oxford University report said: "The median self-reported gross weekly income (including income streams other than Uber) among drivers is £460, which is considerably lower than the £596 median gross weekly pay among London workers. Notably, almost three-quarters of Uber drivers thus earn less on a weekly basis than the median London worker.

"Yet, about half state that their incomes increased after becoming an Uber driver, which reflects that many drivers transitioned out of blue collar or service jobs with presumably low levels of pay."

The report also found that Uber drivers broadly report a higher than average level of job satisfaction, but they also report higher levels of stress on the job.

Following a defeat in the employment appeals tribunal that ruled drivers should be treated as workers, Uber has introduced new measures to give holiday pay to some drivers. It has also added some maternity and sickness protections and driver-friendly features, such as an in-app tipping service.

Unions have repeatedly called for worker status for Uber drivers. GMB union national officer Mick Rix said: "This so-called independent report, apparently co-authored by Uber’s own staff, waxes lyrical about flexibility. All too often in the gig economy flexibility is a one way street and provides an excuse for exploitative employers."

The report comes as MP Frank Field prepares to oversee a new review into the gig economy. He is set to call Uber before the inquiry over workers rights.

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