With more than 1.5 million drivers around the world, Uber has fundamentally changed the way we get around. But even though things might now be a little easier for passengers, the rapid pace of tech-fuelled change for Uber workers – and other people in the gig economy – has also been really controversial.
For example, Uber drivers have long complained about law pay and poor working conditions but, in 2016, they won a key legal ruling stating that the company must pay their workers the national living wage and holiday pay. Great news you might think.
Sadly, however, Uber has repeatedly refused to abide by the ruling and continues to appeal the verdict. That’s why Uber drivers and workers across the country are going on strike today. Here’s everything you need to know…
When is the strike?
The strike will start at 1pm today and will last for 24 hours. There will also be protests outside Uber offices in London, Birmingham and Nottingham.
How will it affect customers?
It’s not known how many Uber workers will take part in the strike, being organised by United Private Hire Drivers - a branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, but customers are being urged to not cross the digital picket line.
“The app is the picket line so we’re asking passengers and customers to not cross it by using it,” a union spokesperson tweeted.
An Independent Workers Union spokesperson added: “Strike, Strike, Strike. Whether you are a driver or a passenger, please don’t cross the picket line.”
And John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said: “I support this strike for better employment rights and urge others to respect the app picket line.”
What are Uber workers demanding?
According to the Guardian, Uber workers are demanding an end to ‘unfair deactivations’ of drivers, an increase in fares to £2 per mile from a current rate of £1.25 in London, and a 10% reduction in commissions paid by drivers.
They are also demanding that Uber respect the 2016 tribunal decision that rejected Uber’s classification of drivers as independent contractors.
Stephen Hull, a Birmingham-based driver taking part in Tuesday’s strike, said: “There is mass discontent among drivers because the oversupply of vehicles and the way that drivers earn their money is making it almost impossible to make enough to live.”
An Uber spokesperson told ShortList in a statement: “We are always looking to make improvements to ensure drivers have the best possible experience and can make the most of their time driving on the app. That’s why over the last few months we’ve introduced dozens of new features, including sickness, injury, maternity and paternity protections. An academic study last month found that drivers in London make an average of £11 an hour, after accounting for all of their costs and Uber’s service fee. We continue to look at ways to help drivers increase their earnings and our door is always open if anyone wants to speak to us about any issues they’re having.”