Gig workers have urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to force Uber to pay drivers at least minimum wage as the ride-hailing biz seeks to renew its license to operate in the British capital.
The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) want Mayor Khan to enforce a UK Supreme Court finding that Uber drivers are employees and not self-employed contractors.
As employees, the app-hailed drivers are entitled to at least minimum wage and paid holidays, the union argued. But despite that court victory last year, working conditions for Uber drivers in Blighty haven’t improved much. The union said the way Uber pays drivers doesn’t meet minimum wage. Now that Uber’s license is set to expire on March 27 in London, the ADCU reckons the city’s mayor has the chance to force the American giant to comply with the court’s ruling, and meet the union’s demands, if it wants to continue operating in the Big Smoke.
“We’ve led the fight for worker rights for six years and won the argument in the highest court in the land,” Yaseen Aslam, ADCU President and co-lead claimant in the Supreme Court case, said in a statement this week.
“Now it is the mayor’s turn to do his bit to ensure the law is enforced and that Uber drivers are treated with dignity and respect at work. Londoners want cheap fares but they expect the mayor to ensure nobody is exploited in a [Transport for London] licensed and regulated trade.”
Aslam and ADCU general secretary James Farrar said Khan should tell Uber to reimburse workers 90p per mile for the purposes of minimum wage calculation instead of the 45p it pays today. Inflation and a hike in prices has led to a near 30 per cent increase in vehicle and fuel costs, and the company must therefore cough up more to cover these expenses, the pair argued in an open letter [PDF] to the mayor.
The ADCU noted in a statement: “Uber is charging a fuel surcharge on fares in the US and elsewhere but has chosen not to in the UK despite workers being particularly badly hit by the cost of living crisis here.”
The pair also slammed the ride-hailing service for paying workers only when they’re actively driving to pick up and drop off passengers. Drivers should be compensated for all the hours accrued from the moment they log on and off the app, they argued. Uber short-changes workers out of pay for around 50 percent of their true working time as a result, they claimed.
“With a stroke of a pen, Sadiq Khan has the power to end years of hardship and suffering for Uber drivers by now offering Uber the very simple but stark choice of either respecting worker rights and complying with the law in full or immediately exit the London market,” Farrar said.
The UK Supreme Court ruling in 2021 only applied to a limited number of individuals in that specific case. Alex Wood, a sociologist studying work and employment, previously told the BBC that drivers had to take Uber to the employment tribunal if they wanted the same rights too.
The Register has asked Uber for comment. ®
source: The Register