London congestion charge discrimination claim to be heard at the High Court 10 & 11 July

  • The IWGB will argue Sadiq Khan’s introduction of £11.50 congestion charge on minicabs is in breach of the Equality Act and the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Charge is being introduced on mainly BAME workforce, while black cab drivers, who are mostly white, continue to be exempt.
  • TFL figures show minicab drivers are almost three times as likely to be stopped by enforcement officers than black cab drivers, even though minicabs are more likely to be compliant.

4 July: The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) will be arguing at the High Court on 10 and 11 July that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s decision to introduce a congestion charge on minicabs discriminates against and breaches the human rights of a mainly BAME workforce.

The IWGB is seeking a judicial review of Khan’s decision to introduce the £11.50 charge on the grounds that it is a case of indirect discrimination under the Equality Act. The charge is being imposed on a workforce that is mainly BAME (94% of London’s 107,000 minicab drivers are BAME according to TFL), while black cab drivers, who are mostly white, continue to be exempt.

This policy is also in breach of a number of articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that cover discrimination, property rights, right to a family life and ability to carry out a profession.

The IWGB has assembled a legal team which includes renowned discrimination barristers Ben Collins QC,Nadia Motraghi and Tara O’Halloran of Old Square Chambers, and TMP Solicitors founding partner Jacqueline McGuigan.

The IWGB has proposed a number of alternatives to this policy, including a cap on the total number minicab driver licenses, a levy on minicab operators such as Uber and Viavan, and the enforcement of worker rights by Transport for London (TfL).

Discrimination also runs throughout London’s enforcement regime. The most recent figures released by TfL show minicabs are almost three times as likely to be stopped by enforcement officers as black cabs, despite the fact that TfL’s own statistics show that on average minicabs are more compliant than black cabs.

IWGB United Private Hire Drivers branch secretary Yaseen Aslam said: “We know who created the congestion mess in London. It was operators like Uber flooding the streets with cars while Transport for London was asleep at the wheel. Now, instead of capping the total number minicab licenses or making Uber pay, Mayor Sadiq Khan is chosing to punish BAME drivers who are only trying to make an honest living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. This is discriminatory, cruel and regressive, and we will not stop until we get justice.”

Minicab driver and IWGB BAME officer Muhumed Ali said: “For years we have been asking Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London to do their job and regulate rogue minicab operators such as Uber. Instead of challenging these multinational companies, the Mayor has decided to lay the cost of out of control licensing on precarious drivers on poverty pay. Now it is up to us to make sure this discriminatory policy is scrapped.”

The legal action follows seven weeks of protests earlier this year by minicab drivers that are demanding that the congestion charge be scrapped, as it represents an unfair burden on their already stretched budgets. The protests have seen hundreds of drivers block a number of major roads and bridges in the capital.

The IWGB is the leading union for precarious workers. It has taken legal action against Uber, Deliveroo, Addison Lee and several other so-called gig economy employers. Last year it organised the first nation-wide strike of Uber drivers and the biggest strike of outsourced workers in the UK higher-education history.

For more information:

Emiliano Mellino, press officer

press@iwgb.co.uk

Uber Drivers in four UK cities to protest ahead of company’s IP

  • Uber drivers in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow to log off app and protest outside Uber offices in each city
  • Drivers condemn Uber for large payouts to founder, venture capitalists and executives despite failure to resolve pay issues
  • Drivers call on public to not cross “digital picket line” on 8 May

8 May: Hundreds of Uber drivers will log off the app and stage protests in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow today, as part of an international day of action taking place in dozens of cities around the world ahead of the company’s IPO.

UK drivers are expected to log off the app between 7am and 4pm and the United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch of 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 IWGB’s UPHD branch is asking the public to not cross the digital picket line by using the app to book Uber services during these times. Thousands of other drivers are expected to take action around the world, from the United States to Brazil, as part of an international day of action.

Drivers are protesting against the IPO, which will value the company at tens of billions of dollars and lead to massive payouts for investors, while driver pay continues to be cut.

Despite the expected massive payout for a few at the top, 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. The IWGB is expected to face Uber at the Supreme Court later this year.

Uber’s own prospectus recently filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission admits that being forced to respect worker rights and pay VAT as a result of the IWGB’s legal challenge would be a material risk to its business model. It also says that driver pay and job satisfaction will fall as Uber seeks to cut costs to become profitable.

Analysis by UPHD shows that Uber drivers currently earn on average £5 per hour and work as much as 30 hours per week before breaking even.

The drivers are demanding:

Fares be increased to £2 per mile

Commissions paid by drivers to Uber be reduced from 25% to 15%

An end to unfair dismissals

Uber to respect the rulings of the Employment Tribunal, The Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal confirming ‘worker’ status for drivers

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

The protests are expected to take place at:

London 1pm – Uber UK Head Office,1 Aldgate Tower, 2 Leman St, London E1 8FA

Birmingham 1pm -100 Broad St, Birmingham B15 1AE

Nottingham 1pm – King Edward Court Unit C, Nottingham NG1 1EL

Glasgow 2pm – 69 Buchanan St, Glasgow G1 3HL

Uber drivers plan national shutdown on 8 May before Uber IPO

  • Uber drivers in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow to log off app on 8 May and demonstrate outside Uber offices in each city
  • Drivers condemn Uber for large payouts to founder, venture capitalists and executives despite failure to resolve pay issues
  • Drivers call on public to not use the service on 8 May

8 May: Uber drivers will log off the app and stage protests in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow ahead of the minicab firm’s stock market flotation the following day.

The drivers, who are part of the United Private Hire Drivers Branch (UPHD) of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), will observe a 9 hour boycott of the app between 7am and 4pm.

Uber drivers will be on strike and leading demonstrations across the world on 8 May in the lead up to Uber’s Initial Public Offering (IPO).

UPHD calls on the public to not cross the digital picket line by using the app to book Uber services during these times.

Drivers are protesting against the IPO which will lead to large payouts for executives and venture capitalist investors, despite failures to resolve pay issues for drivers.

With an expected valuation of $100 billion, Uber’s founder, venture capitalists and management will become fabulously wealthy overnight. Uber’s founder stands to personally gain $9 billion.

However, Uber’s business model is unsustainable in its dependence upon large scale worker exploitation, tax avoidance and regulatory arbitrage. Since 2016, successive judgements from the Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal have all said Uber drivers are entitled to basic worker rights, such as the minimum wage and holiday pay. Uber’s own prospectus recently filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission admits:

  • Uber believes the prospect of having to respect worker rights and pay VAT as a result of UPHD worker rights legal challenge to be a material risk to its business model
  • Driver pay and job satisfaction will fall as Uber seeks to cut costs to become profitable
  • Analysis by UPHD shows that Uber drivers currently earn on average £5 per hour and work as much as 30 hours per week before breaking even.

The drivers are demanding:

  • Fares be increased to £2 per mile
  • Commissions paid by drivers to Uber be reduced from 25% to 15%
  • An end to unfair dismissals
  • Uber to respect the rulings the 2016 ruling of the Employment Tribunal confirming ‘worker’ status for drivers
  • James Farrar, Chair of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union 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.”

The protests will take place at 1pm, May 8th at the following locations –

  1. London – Uber UK Head Office, 1 Aldgate Tower, 2 Leman St, London E1 8FA
  2. Birmingham – 100 Broad St, Birmingham B15 1AE (TBC)
  3. Nottingham – King Edward Court Unit C, Nottingham NG1 1EL
  4. Glasgow – 69 Buchanan St, Glasgow G1 3HL (TBC)

NOTES:

  1. Uber Securities and Exchange Commmission S1 prospectus filing https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1543151/000119312519103850/d647752ds1.htm
  2. Farrar & Aslam v Uber, Employment Tribunal Ruling https://www.judiciary.uk/judgments/mr-y-aslam-mr-j-farrar-and-others-v-uber/
  3. Union calculations of Uber driver net earnings based on Uber published ‘top driver’ earnings

Addison Lee drivers to strike on 1 May, in first ever strike in company’s history

  • Addison Lee drivers at Luton Airport to strike for 24 hours on 1 May
  • Drivers striking over pay and conditions currently earn below the minimum wage
  • Over 90% of drivers voted in favour of strike action

1 May: Addison Lee drivers operating at Luton Airport will go on strike on 1 May for 24 hours demanding a living wage, in the first ever strike of Addison Lee drivers anywhere in the UK.

The drivers, who are part of the United Private Hire Drivers Branch (UPHD) of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), will be striking over pay and unfair working conditions.

A survey conducted in April by UPHD found that after an increase in the commission Addison Lee takes, the average hourly wage for drivers at Luton Airport working an average of 70 hours a week has fallen to £4.72.

Drivers have been protesting for several months against this increase and a hike in vehicle rental costs that were introduced last autumn, but the company has so far been unwilling to negotiate.

Consequently, in a recent strike ballot, over 90% of drivers working from Luton Airport voted in favour of industrial action.

On 1 May, the striking drivers will protest outside Luton Town Hall from 10am to 12 noon, calling on Luton Council to use their powers as a licensing authority to enforce their right to a minimum wage. They will then hold a picket line at the boundary of the airport site at Luton Airport Roundabout into the evening. The strike will be active for 24 hours from 05:00 on 1 May until 04:49 on 2 May.

IWGB UPHD branch secretary Yaseen Aslam said: “While we are not surprised that Addison Lee’s vulture capitalist owners would try and draw every last ounce of blood from Luton’s drivers, we are shocked that a Labour council is so happy to sit by and do nothing while drivers earn below the minimum wage. With this strike we want to send a message not only to Addison Lee, but also the council: Do your job as a regulator and stop letting these companies drive your citizens into abject poverty.”

Luton Addison Lee driver Imran Iqbal said: “On an average week I’m working 65 hours and taking home less than £350. So while I’ve been earning far below the minimum wage, Addison Lee’s owners made tens of millions of dollars last year. We have tried talking to the company, we have tried protesting and now we are left with no other option but to strike. We owe it to our families and each other to keep on fighting until Addison Lee delivers a fair deal.”

Addison Lee has had the exclusive right to operate the rank at Luton Airport since 2012, when the local Labour council awarded the company the contract following a £2 million bid.

The company is owned by US Private Equity fund Carlyle, which last year paid its two billionaire founders USD 183 million in compensation and dividends.

You can support the drivers by donating to the strike fund here.

-ENDS-

For more information:

Emiliano Mellino, press officer

press@iwgb.co.uk