Uber union sparks UK travel hell as drivers strike amid fuel shortages

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Drivers and riders are being encouraged to switch off the app in a protest against current working conditions and pay. The strike’s organisers, the United Private Hire Drivers Union, urged the public to support the demonstration which is planned for 11am in east London.

The protest will take place outside Uber’s offices in Aldgate, but the union suggested that some travelling into the protest meet at a nearby Asda branch.

On Twitter, they urged: “Switch off the Uber app for 24 hours on 6 Oct. Join the protest outside Uber’s Office at Aldgate Tower, E1 8QN from 11am. If coming with a car, meet before at 10am at Stepney Green ASDA to then drive over together.”

The United Private Hire Drivers Union is calling for Uber to offer a better rate for drivers, to lower its commission, and to scrap fixed-price trips.

The union has also denounced Uber for “unfair terminations”, as well as demanding an end to the company’s use of facial recognition technology.

This is not the first strike to hit Uber in recent weeks. Uber drivers are represented by a number of different unions, and The App Drivers and Couriers Union held protests in cities across the country last week, including Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, with a similar tactic of avoiding using the service for 24 hours.

They claim Uber has failed to implement a court-ordered pay for waiting times, which they insist makes up about 40 percent of the entire time worked by Uber drivers.

Yaseen Aslam, President of the App Drivers and Couriers Union, said: ‘It is shameful that Uber continues to defy the highest court in the land to cheat 70,000 workers out of pay for 40 percent of their true working time.

“The drivers know they deserve and are legally entitled to much more than Uber is offering.

“This strike is just the beginning and there will be much more unrest until Uber does the right thing and pays drivers all that they are owed, both pension contributions and working time.”

General Secretary of the App Drivers and Couriers Union, James Farrar added: “Uber has continued to intensify its use of junk surveillance tech and algorithmic management control to maximise profits.

“The results have been catastrophic, with hundreds of people unfairly dismissed and accused of unspecified ‘fraudulent activity’”.

However, Uber maintains that it is working with drivers to guarantee better standards for drivers, and that recognising trade union GMB has bolstered driver security.

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An Uber spokesperson said: “Following the historic trade union recognition deal with GMB, drivers have an even stronger voice within Uber.

“We are working together with our trade union partner to raise standards for drivers through greater transparency and engagement.”

Uber recognised the GMB in May this year, which gave 70,000 workers the right to join a trade union.

Earlier in the year, the Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers could no longer be classed as freelancers, but as workers entitled to national living wage pay, holiday time, and sick pay.

These most recent strikes follow weeks of chaos surrounding fuel shortages and fuel availability to Uber drivers.

Uber and other taxi or ride-share companies have had to contend with soaring fares and plummeting availability of stocked-up vehicles.

The pandemic has also served to give Uber a headache, with less people travelling and many Uber drivers jumping ship to either other companies offering a similar service, or to become delivery drivers and couriers.

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