By campaign agent Oliver Ratcliffe
One minute Uber is one of the most successful and seemingly invincible companies in the world. The next, they lose the license in one of its major sources of income, London. Uber will not be allowed to have cars on the city’s roads as of the 30th September; but where did it all go wrong?
There’s no doubt that Uber journeys were efficient, convenient, but most importantly… inexpensive. For decades, London black cabs had a monopoly on London roads, and the ability to charge, arguably, extortionate rates. But Uber forced them to react. Do you think it was a coincidence that they suddenly came up with a black cabs app? Black cabs have had to up their game with a new kid in town, but they’ll soon own the roads once more. 40,000 Uber drivers will now be without a job; a devastating blow to the lives of many who had nothing to do with the mismanagement of the company.
So there’s no doubt there’s a lot at stake here, but despite its rapid growth and success, it no doubt had its shortcomings. Uber have repeatedly been accused of not dealing with criminal cases effectively. With a history of their drivers being suspected terrorists, using physical violence, inflammatory and discriminatory language and sexual assault (whosdrivingyou.org). It’s safe to say that Uber’s conduct around dealing with these cases has been less than satisfactory, having failed to adhere to safeguarding rules and DBS checking all of their drivers.
Another criticism of Uber of late has been its treatment of its drivers. There have been multiple reports of cases where Uber drivers have had to work overtime to support their families due to the high costs of running the car, and commission being paid to Uber. Their drivers are technically self-employed, which means they are not beholden to laws around the minimum wage. Uber have often defended this claiming that 9 out of 10 of their drivers were satisfied with their pay and work/life balance.
With all arguments considered, it is difficult to deny the convenience and brilliance of Uber, especially in a city as expensive as London. But have they become a victim of their own success? Have they become too complacent and cut too many corners? Lessons need to be learnt, and fast, if Uber are to take the city of London by storm once again.
Sources and further reading:
- Reported List of Incidents Involving Uber and Lyft, Who’s Driving You?
- Uber is treating its drivers as sweated labour, says report, The Guardian
- The Uber driver trying to support his family: ‘We are not earning enough’, The Guardian
- 9/10 UK Uber drivers ‘satisfied’ despite employment rights furore, HR Grapevine
Image @Núcleo Editorial on Flickr.