Rideshare drivers and food delivery riders are paid below minimum wages, are inadequately paid to meet tax payments and adequately maintain their vehicles, are subject to arbitrary terminations and a business model that has consistently broken the law.
Uber’s IPO prospectus acknowledges $1.8 billion losses in 2018, admits it may never make a profit and adds it will have “to reduce driver incentives to improve our financial position”. Uber says because of this, “we expect driver dissatisfaction will generally increase”.
“Uber is about to be sold publicly and the information it has put out is causing alarm bells. Drivers around the world are getting ripped off. Now the loss-making Uber says drivers can expect things to get worse as it tries to encourage investors to buy its shares. For drivers this is a disaster and means they will struggle even further. But for investors it shows how hollow Uber’s claims are. It is simply not a viable business model,” said Tony Sheldon, TWU co-ordinator on the on-demand economy and Chair of the International Transport Workers’ Federation’s road transport section.
The Rideshare Drivers’ Co-operative said: “Rideshare drivers for years are being underpaid. We scratch for work as the lies of Uber flood the market with drivers, introduce cut price services and in a non-transparent way gives better paid work to certain drivers. Drivers need rights and the chance to earn a fair wage.”
The claims drivers and riders will serve on Uber include:
The right to negotiate the terms and conditions of their work contracts
Acceptable rates of pay that help cover the investment drivers have made
Lower Uber’s commission percentage
A comprehensive income insurance
An independent tribunal to deal with driver and passenger complaints and the resulting actions taken by Uber
Transparency on how work is allocated
“Uber and other rideshare companies must be regulated because they are wrecking livelihoods and wrecking our economies. Uber has been allowed to insert itself into our communities with low paying work. It is clear that the business model is flawed. Governments need to stand against this kind of insidious corporatism,” Sheldon added.
A survey of over 1,100 rideshare drivers in Australia last October showed 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.
The survey last year showed rideshare drivers have faced deaths threats from passengers 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 rideshare apps when passengers leave wallets in their cars or when passengers make entirely false reports, destroying livelihoods. Almost two-thirds of drivers have had false reports by passengers.
A survey of delivery riders in Australia shows three out of every four are paid below minimum rates. Almost 50% of riders had either been injured on the job or knew someone who had. Three UberEats riders have been killed while working.
In Australia, the Victorian government has signaled it wants to regulate the on-demand economy and is investigating its effects. 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. NSW ALP has also said it would regulate on-demand work.
Other countries are awarding rights to on-demand workers. 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.