Since entering the London market, Uber has been plagued with accusations of misconduct by Transport for London and the local government.

Since entering the London market, Uber has been plagued with accusations of misconduct by Transport for London and the local government.

Uber’s underlying issues

In November 2017, a ban was issued denying Uber the right to operate in London.  This was due to claims that Uber had been treating its drivers like ‘self-employed’ workers. The case began when drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam disagreed with Uber’s view on casual workers, arguing they should be treated like average employees. For Aslam and Farrar, this included working for minimum wage to support themselves and their families.

In a statement, Aslam said: “I’ve never done anything like this before, and people thought I was crazy – until we started winning.” The men took Uber to court, winning the tribunal. Uber are now in the ‘black book’ of disreputable firms. The initial ban was successfully challenged by Uber allowing them to continue business for a further 15 months. On one condition. They had to abide by the employment regulations that were in place. 

The Consequences

Uber’s chief executive officer, Dara Khosrowshahi, issued a public apology stating  “we got things wrong.” Despite this, corporate governance of Uber had not been changed in any visible way. 

The Present

As of 2019, Uber employs 50,000 drivers and serves approximately 3.5 million Londoners. Yet they continually fail to implement their rules of conduct. 14,000 rides have been completed by drivers who were misusing their license to hand out to friends and family. 

This ‘pattern of failures’ had drawn the ire of prominent figures. Including, The Mayor of London, who had been influential in granting Uber a license extension of 15 months. 

Uber’s regional manager, Jamie Heywood, had promised to appeal the ban again, arguing that they had implemented facial recognition technology to increase the safety of passengers. Uber’s continual misuse of its license has led to a ‘blanket ban’ in London. This has compromised 50,000 jobs across the capital. 

Hasan Moman
MSc Economics

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