Uber’s worldwide fight with the taxi industry continues

Published: July 29, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Callum Micucci

CATEGORY:

Share:

From London to New York City to Toronto, Uber continues to battle with city taxi groups across the world.

In London, Uber is facing a lawsuit from a professional drivers’ group that alleges the company is failing to provide basic rights to its drivers. The group claims that Uber has a legal obligation to provide holiday, health insurance, proper wages, and an ability to file complaints.

Uber has always claimed that its drivers are partners, not employees—the company says that if drivers were indeed employees it would mean losing their flexibility in determining their own hours, which is what makes the job so attractive in the first place.

UK employment law requires that drivers are paid minimum wage, receive paid holiday and are allowed breaks during working weeks.

GMB had hired the UK law firm Leigh Day to take action on behalf of Uber drivers.

“We believe that it’s clear from the way Uber operates that it owes the same responsibilities towards its drivers as any other employer does to its workers,” said Leigh Day lawyer Nigel Mackay.

“In particular, its drivers should not be denied the right to minimum wage and paid leave,” he said.

Uber faced a similar situation in California last month when the state’s labour commission ruled that an Uber driver qualifies as an employee, not a contractor, as the company had always claimed.

However, in a response to the media’s reports, Uber released a statement saying that the California ruling applied to just a single driver and was non-binding. Furthermore, the statement reads “it is contrary to a previous ruling by the same commission, which concluded in 2012 that the driver ‘performed services as an independent contractor, and not as a bona fide employee.’”

New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio’s administration halted its battle with Uber this past week, at least temporarily. It agreed not to cap the number of Uber drivers allowed to drive in the city until it could complete a study looking into the impact of for-hire vehicles on the municipality.

“We’re pleased to have reached an agreement with Mayor de Blasio’s administration and the City Countil to collaborate on a joint transportation study and to work together on ways to continue expanding economic opportunity, mobility and transportation access in the city," said Uber's general manager for New York City Josh Mohrer.

Finally, Toronto also continues to battle Uber, as councilman Jim Karygiannis, who received campaign donations from the taxi industry, called out Uber for not paying HST last week.