A class action by taxi drivers against Uber is raising serious questions over the imminent public sale of the billion-dollar backed company as a risk factor for investors, the Transport Workers’ Union has said.

The class action is being filed in Victoria today, as the Federal Government continues to refuse to regulate the on-demand economy. The TWU says both taxi drivers and Uber drivers are suffering exploitation because of Uber’s business model which is being allowed to operate unregulated and unchecked.
“This class action is another development which reveals the Ponzi scheme that Uber is and the level of risk it is exposed to. Its business model is based on exploitation, lies and illegal activity. It is a dud investment dressed up as something innovative. Workers in Australia and across the world are standing up to Uber, as this taxi driver class action and activism by Uber drivers shows. Their actions are exposing the house of cards that Uber is built on,” Tony Sheldon, TWU’s coordinator on the on-demand economy.
“Taxi drivers have seen their incomes plummet while Uber drivers are also struggling to make a living. Uber’s model is to devastate whatever taxi or rideshare arrangements are in place in a jurisdiction, through illegal means if necessary. They then engage drivers with the hope of making a living only to continually reduce rates, deactivate them with no notice or right to appeal and refuse to support them even when they are beaten or sexually assaulted. Taxi drivers and Uber drivers are crying out for regulation while the Federal Government refuses to protect these workers in Australia. This class action will attempt to hold Uber to account while the Government continues to fail on this,” he said.
Uber drivers will take action across Australia next Wednesday May 8 over the poor rates and conditions they face.
A survey of over 1,100 rideshare drivers across Australia shows the average pay is just $16 per hour before fuel, insurance and other costs are taken out. One in 10 drivers has been physically assaulted while 6% have been sexually assaulted.
Drivers have faced deaths threats towards them and their families, rape threats, sexual assault, being punched in the face, held at knifepoint, had their car windows broken, their cars stolen and have received racial abuse. They have been immediately deactivated from the ride-share apps when passengers leave wallets in their cars or when passengers make entirely false reports. Almost two-thirds of drivers have had false reports by passengers.
In March, media revealed Uber used spyware to hack into rival rideshare companies when it entered the Australian market in 2014, to steal data on their drivers so they could contact them and lure them over to Uber. The company also used to spyware to close down accounts of government investigators who were monitoring the company’s illegal operations.
The Labor Party nationally adopted a policy last December which would see on-demand workers able to demand rights such as minimum rates, superannuation and challenge unfair sackings. The Victorian government has signalled it wants to regulate the on-demand economy and is investigating its effects. NSW ALP has also said it would regulate on-demand work.
Other countries are seeing regulation introduced. An Amsterdam court ruled in two separate cases in January that riders working for food delivery firm Deliveroo are not self-employed and are entitled to the same pay and benefits as an employee. In the UK courts have ruled against Uber saying drivers are workers, entitling them to holiday pay, sick pay and a minimum wage.
Meanwhile, transportation officials are considering a tax on Uber and Lyft rides in Los Angeles County, saying the Bay Area tech companies don’t pay their fair share to maintain public streets and exacerbate congestion in a traffic-choked region.

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