Uber drivers strike in four UK cities

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Hundreds of Uber drivers are striking today in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow.

The protests come days before Uber’s IPO as part of an ‘international day of action’, with similar strikes taking place in dozens of cities around the world.

UK drivers are expected to log off the app between 7 am and 4 pm. 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 union has asked the public to not cross the ‘digital picket line’ by using Uber’s services during the strike.

Drivers are protesting against pay cuts and working conditions, with Uber’s upcoming IPO expected to give huge payouts for investors while drivers pay is cut. The union estimates that drivers currently earn an average of £5 per hour and must work 30 hours per week before breaking even.

A statement on the IWGB website said that Uber’s business model is “unsustainable in its dependence upon large scale worker exploitation”. The union has taken Uber to court over workers’ rights several times since 2016, and will do so again at the Supreme Court later this year.

The drivers’ demands include a fare increase to £2 per mile, commissions payable to Uber decreased to 15%, and worker status for drivers.

IWGB UPHD branch secretary Yaseen Aslam said: “Since Uber arrived in 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.”

And Uber spokesperson said: “Drivers are at the heart of our service — we can’t succeed without them — and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road.

“Whether it’s more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections or fully funded four-year degrees for drivers or their families, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers.”

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