8 May: Hundreds of Uber drivers will log off the app and stage protests in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow today, as part of an international day of action taking place in dozens of cities around the world ahead of the company's IPO.
UK drivers are expected to log off the app between 7am and 4pm and the United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), is calling for drivers to protest outside of Uber's offices in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow.
The IWGB's UPHD branch is asking the public to not cross the digital picket line by using the app to book Uber services during these times. Thousands of other drivers are expected to take action around the world, from the United States to Brazil, as part of an international day of action.
Drivers are protesting against the IPO, which will value the company at tens of billions of dollars and lead to massive payouts for investors, while driver pay continues to be cut.
Despite the expected massive payout for a few at the top, Uber's business model is unsustainable in its dependence upon large scale worker exploitation. Since 2016, successive judgements from the UK's Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal have all said Uber drivers are being unlawfully denied basic worker rights, such as the minimum wage and holiday pay. The IWGB is expected to face Uber at the Supreme Court later this year.
Uber's own prospectus recently filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission admits that being forced to respect worker rights and pay VAT as a result of the IWGB's legal challenge would be a material risk to its business model. It also says that driver pay and job satisfaction will fall as Uber seeks to cut costs to become profitable.
Analysis by UPHD shows that Uber drivers currently earn on average £5 per hour and work as much as 30 hours per week before breaking even.
The drivers are demanding:
Fares be increased to £2 per mile
Commissions paid by drivers to Uber be reduced from 25% to 15%
An end to unfair dismissals
Uber to respect the rulings of the Employment Tribunal, The Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal confirming 'worker' status for drivers
IWGB UPHD branch secretary Yaseen Aslam said: "Since Uber arrived to the UK in 2012, it has progressively driven down pay and conditions in the minicab sector to the point where many drivers are now being pushed to work over 60 hours a week just to get by. Now, a handful of investors are expected to get filthy rich off the back of the exploitation of these drivers on poverty wages. We are protesting today demanding that the company pay drivers a decent wage and that government authorities tackle Uber's chronic unlawful behaviour.”
IWGB UPHD branch chair James Farrar said: “Uber's flotation is shaping up to be an unprecedented international orgy of greed as investors cash in on one of the most abusive business models ever to emerge from Silicon Valley. It is the drivers who have created this extraordinary wealth but they continue to be denied even the most basic workplace rights. We call on the public not to cross the digital picket line on 8 May but to stand in solidarity with impoverished drivers across the world who have made Uber so successful."
The protests are expected to take place at:
London 1pm - Uber UK Head Office,1 Aldgate Tower, 2 Leman St, London E1 8FA
Birmingham 1pm -100 Broad St, Birmingham B15 1AE
Nottingham 1pm - King Edward Court Unit C, Nottingham NG1 1EL
Glasgow 2pm - 69 Buchanan St, Glasgow G1 3HL
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