Rideshare drivers in the UK have plans to sign off the Uber app and spend their time protesting in four major metro areas. The message, coordinated around Uber’s plans to go public, is a clear rebuke of the company’s IPO plan, which will make many employees wealthy overnight but leave drivers in the same deteriorating conditions.
The drivers, organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), have plans to log off the Uber app en masse for nine hours on May 8. Their American counterparts in seven cities will similarly hold a 12-hour strike on the same day, including Rideshare Drivers United in LA and Chicago Rideshare Advocates. London, Nottingham, Glasgow and Birmingham are set to be flooded by irate drivers.
UK drivers’ demands are remarkably similar to those in the States — no great surprise, as arguably the features that have made rideshare platforms so valuable for investors are the same bugs that have made them so unsustainable for workers.
Specifically, they’re seeking to have their pay increased, have less of their ride fees taken as a commission by the platform, and to have the company respect a three-year-old UK ruling that found rideshare drivers to be employees, not contractors.
Fights over these exact issues are scattered but passionate in the US. New York adopted the country’s first pay floor for rideshare drivers in December, and despite legal resistance from Lyft, courts upheld the mandate this week. Connecticut is considering a similar pay floor law, and California may soon vote on a bill that would make systemic misclassification of employees as contractors significantly harder.
Despite a disappointing IPO showing from its main competitor, Lyft, Uber still seeks to go public at a valuation of around $US90 billion ($128 billion), something James Farrar of the IWGB colourfully called “an unprecedented international orgy of greed” for a company sporting “one of the most abusive business models ever to emerge from Silicon Valley”.
Previous IWGB strikes have drawn hundreds of drivers, and as in prior actions, the union is requesting riders opt not to cross the digital picket line on May 8 by choosing alternative methods of transportation.
We reached out to Uber for comment but had not heard back at time of writing.