Over 50 drivers for taxi service app Uber protested on Tuesday to demand that Transport for London (TfL) regulate the billion-dollar industry giant.
Members of the ADCU union took their anger at poor pay and conditions to TfL offices at Palestra House in south London.
Driver Mohammed told Socialist Worker that he wants TfL to regulate how Uber operates in the same way it does for black cab taxi services.
“We have to do the same things to get our licence as black cab drivers. We have to abide by the same rules. Our vehicles must meet emission standards, whereas black cabs don’t. So we want to be treated equally,” he said.
At the beginning of this month, Uber introduced “dynamic pricing” technology for fares in London. This means operators can decide what passengers are charged depending on factors including the personal data of both passengers and drivers.
TfL has backed Uber and other taxi apps like Bolt using this kind of technology.
Dynamic pricing might mean that companies like Uber can grab more profit, but workers say their pay is still falling.
Mohammed has worked for Uber for ten years but said that drivers’ pay had fallen significantly in that time.
“Things are completely different now than they were a decade ago. I have to put in two or three extra hours of work a day to make the same money,” he said.
In 2016 the Supreme Court deemed that Uber drivers weren’t self-employed as the company claimed. But Hasnan told Socialist Worker on the protest that Uber employees still aren’t granted the same rights as other workers.
“Our rights to things like a minimum wage and payment for waiting times still aren’t being addressed by Uber. They haven’t kept their word, and so we need to put more pressure on them,” he added.
Workers held signs and placards that read, “End unfair dismissals” and “Stop Uber greed”.
General secretary of ADCU, James Farrar, told Socialist Worker, “As platforms like Uber struggle for profitability, they are resorting to more algorithms and trickery.
“Dynamic pricing is quite a predatory process. It profiles customers and drivers and tries to see how much we can charge the customer and how little we can pay the driver. Uber bosses are now bragging about how they are taking an extra £200 million in profit margins in Britain this year.
“They’ve done this by increasing prices for customers and then keeping down wages for drivers.”
But James also said, “The fight carries on. We’re growing very fast as a trade union. We’ll continue litigating in the courts, but we want to have more industrial action and strikes.”
After rallying outside Palestra House, workers marched to St. Thomas’ hospital to join striking nurses in the RCN union on picket lines.
James added that unity between drivers and other sections of workers is vital. “Our workforce has been marginalised for too long,” he said. “Drivers need to understand the connection our struggle has to the broader ones.
“Injustice sweeps across not only the organised sector but across the gig economy. It’s the same dynamic — the bosses want to protect their profits. That’s what TfL is doing. It’s protecting Uber’s profits while drivers pay the price.”Original post