United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD), the UK’s largest trade body for private hire drivers, recently joined The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) in June 2017. Together, they aim to combat the struggles faced by private hire drivers working within ‘the gig economy’.
Co-founders Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar, now chair of the new IWGB UPHD branch, have strived for a number of changes for private hire drivers including the demand of fair regulation, a cap on private hire licenses in London and fair pay. They have especially campaigned for Uber drivers.
Despite being a huge and successful operator, Uber deprives their workers of basic workers’ rights, including the national minimum wage, holiday pay and discrimination protections. And with the booming success of Uber, a “race to the bottom” has been ignited, according to Aslam, with drivers working up to 90-100 hours per week but only earning £5-£6 per hour. Recent surveys carried out by UPHD show 91% of Uber drivers feel they are not paid fairly, 88% do not feel respected by Uber and 30% report being prescribed anti-depressants since working for Uber.
Uber has responded to legal campaigns by, for example, implementing a ‘fairer’ rating system and an in app tipping option. However, IWGB UPHD chair, James Farrar, says despite such proposals, Uber “remains completely deaf to the most serious issue’, which is that drivers are working ‘excessively long hours earning on average between £5 and £6 per hour.” Farrar’s comments seem rightful, especially as Uber is now attempting to appeal the Employment Tribunal decision, which ruled workers were entitled to the minimum wage and holiday pay— a victory by Farrar and Aslam. The appeal is scheduled for 27 September.
Uber’s appeal demonstrates continuing reluctance to commit to worker rights for their drivers, granting them only half-measures instead.