• The IWGB and UPHD are the UK’s most active organisations in the fight against exploitative work practices in the so-called “gig economy.

  • UPHD is the UK’s largest body representing private hire drivers, including Uber drivers, and has over 1200 members.

  • As part of the IWGB, UPHD will campaign to get recognition by licensing bodies, including Transport for London (TFL).

13 June: The lead claimants in the Uber tribunal Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar, and private hire driver representative body United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) have joined the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).

UPHD members voted last night to become a branch of the IWGB that will represent and promote the interests of drivers working for Uber, Addison Lee, and other private hire companies.

The UPHD, which was founded by Aslam and Farrar, among others, is the UK’s largest representative body for private hire drivers, representing over 1200 drivers.

The coming together of the UK’s two main organisations representing workers in the so-called “gig economy” is a significant step in the fight against exploitative work practices. Each organisations will now benefit from the other’s wealth of experience resulting from years of successful campaigns and litigation.

James Farrar, who was elected chair of the new branch said:

The minicab trade has been brutally exploitative for decades but it is distressing to see conditions deteriorate in recent years to what now amounts to sweat shop conditions according to a recent influential report by Frank Field MP, Chair of the House Select Committee on Work and Pensions. The fact that this happens within the publicly licensed transport system with drivers largely excluded from a regulatory system they fund through license fees is beyond shameful. UPHD is already the largest private hire driver representative body and now with our affiliation to the IWGB we are in the strongest position to deliver badly needed support and advocacy necessary to end abuses in this trade. Under the IWGB, UPHD will be the only trade union that exclusively represents private hire drivers without the inherent conflict of interest in also simultaneously representing taxi drivers and private hire operators. This will allow us to give private hire drivers who are most exploited of all, the support and attention necessary to drive real and lasting change for the better.”

Yaseen Aslam, UPHD Founder and lead claimant in Aslam, Farrar & others v. Uber said:

For years now private hire operators have generated fabulous profits from abusive models that seek to avoid tax and worker rights obligations while passing on all regulatory, financial, operational and safety risk straight to drivers. The explosive growth of Uber in the market place has ignited a race to the bottom with drivers routinely working 90 to 100 hours a week earning little more than £5 per hour. In addition, the regulatory framework has also placed an unfair burden on drivers with little cost or responsibility on licensed operators. This has happened as a result of years of systematic exclusion of private hire drivers and maintaining an open door policy for big operators like Uber and Addison Lee. With our affiliation to the IWGB we will aim to not only further entrench our fight for worker rights but also drive badly needed reforms of the public licensing system to make it fairer for drivers.”

The UPHD campaigns to promote its members interests, particularly by:

  1. Demanding fair regulation, in part through the inclusion of private hire drivers in consultation and drafting of new regulation. While black cab and traditional taxi drivers are well represented and recognised by councils and other licensing bodies such as Transport for London (TFL), private hire drivers have mostly been excluded.

  2. Putting pressure on operators to respect workers’ rights and pay a fair wage. While there have always been problems in what is a brutally exploitative sector, the arrival of Uber has accelerated a race to the bottom in terms of pay and conditions.

In recent years employers in the so-called “gig economy” have been allowed to run wild on a rampage of exploitation,” said IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee. “These low paid workers have been fighting back both on the streets and in the courts, and winning. With the UPHD joining the IWGB the fightback just got serious.

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