Monday 21 March: Today at 10am, private hire drivers from the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) will go on strike and protest outside of the Houses of Parliament over poverty pay, health and safety concerns, and the lack of a fair dismissal process that has led to hundreds of drivers losing their jobs. The action, supported by private hire driver unions in Nigeria and Uruguay, is targeting central government and licensing authorities in a call for better regulation of the sector.
Despite the Uber supreme court ruling, drivers have faced years of plummeting pay, made worse by the rising cost of living. Uber and Bolt also both lack a fair dismissal process, which has resulted in hundreds of drivers being sacked without evidence, chance of an appeal, or in some cases even a reason.
Workplace violence and abuse are commonplace for private hire drivers. Our research suggests that for this majority-BAME workforce, 7 in 10 have been assaulted on the job and 8 in 10 have been victims of verbal abuse. But Uber and Bolt lack common-sense safety measures and drivers feel they are ignored when they raise issues. Last month, the IWGB launched Gabriel’s Campaign for Driver Safety, named after Gabriel Bringye, who was murdered while working for Bolt, which lacks even basic sick pay.
December last year, the European Commission published draft legislation that would ensure basic rights and protections for all EU gig-economy workers, including minimum wage, sick pay, and secure employment. Drivers are demanding a similar crackdown on poverty pay and working conditions in the UK.
The protest has received international support from the Professional E-Hailing Drivers and Private Owners Association (PEDPA) in Nigeria and the Unión de Conductores y Trabajadores de Aplicaciones del Uruguay (UCTRADU) in Uruguay.
Nader Awaad, Chair of United Private Hire Drivers’ Branch (IWGB), says: “We have suffered through years of poverty pay, mistreatment and a lack of basic rights and safety, and are here today to show both the apps and the government that enough is enough. We need pay that reflects the rising costs of living and fuel, we need proper safety precautions to protect drivers, and we need a fair and human process when it comes to dismissals. If the apps are shirking responsibility for their workers, we need the government to step up and enforce our rights.”
Henry Chango Lopez, General Secretary says: Henry: “Private hire drivers are constantly neglected by their employers: multi-national corporations that think they can saddle drivers with poverty pay and a lack of rights and expect them to accept these conditions. The IWGB is committed to organising these precarious workers and creating power through unity, and we are making it clear that drivers working for Uber, Bolt and other private hire companies are stronger together and will not stop fighting for the conditions they deserve.”
For more information, please contact:
James Vail, Head of Communications