Uber shuts down as drivers strike for fair pay and conditions

Hand holding phone with Uber app open
Fréa Lockley

Uber drivers in the UK and US have shut down. They’re on strike to demand fair pay and better working conditions. And it’s perfectly timed because Uber’s set to declare a multi-billion dollar valuation.

“One of the most abusive business models ever”

In the UK, drivers will shut down between 7am and 4pm in cities around the country. Drivers are also taking action across the US. As a statement from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) explained, UK demands are simple. Increase fares to £2/mile, reduce driver commissions to Uber from 25% to 15% and end unfair dismissals

On Friday 10 May, Uber will file as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange. It’s anticipated it will be valued at up to $90bn. Yet, as NBC News reported, Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said:

Wall Street investors are telling Uber… to cut down on driver income, stop incentives and go faster to Driverless Cars. Uber… think they pay drivers too much already… corporate owners are set to make billions, all while drivers are left in poverty and go bankrupt.

James Farrar, chair of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB, 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.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn shared public support for the shut down:

And so did Bernie Sanders in the US. He also pointed out the huge executive pay packets:

Solidarity

In the UK, workers plan to demonstrate outside Uber’s head offices in London. There’s widespread support and solidarity for the shutdown. Wetherspoon workers, who’ve also battled against poor gig economy wages and conditions, shared support:

One tweet appeared to show just what Uber workers are up against from the company:

Uber drivers also explained how much profit the company makes from their hard work:

And although today’s action is about Uber, it’s vital to remember that millions of people face similar working conditions:

An IWGB statement explained that most Uber drivers earn around £5 per hour. So they need to work up to “30 hours per week before breaking even”. It continued:

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.

Uber workers need us all to stand with them in solidarity and support this shutdown. Because it’s disgusting that a few people make such huge profits from thousands of hard-working, poorly paid drivers.

Featured image via Pexels

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us