Saturday, 5 November 2016

Uber Unplugged?

My dad was a taxi driver for many years and during that time he was self-employed which meant he was solely responsible for all of the costs of keeping his taxi on the road - holiday pay or sick pay were out of the question; if he didn't work he didn't get paid 

Like all taxi drivers my dad paid a 'weigh-in' every week, a sum of money which allowed him to access the radio controller and dispatch operation which allocated jobs to drivers in response to calls from customers. 

So I was interested in the recent court ruling which declared that two former Uber taxi drivers in London should enjoy employment rights since the self-same argument seem to apply to London's other 'black cab' taxi drivers as well.

Are black cab drivers employed or self-employed and how does the new technology of Uber differ from the old practice paying a 'weigh-in' before you can get your cab on the road?

I'mall in favour of driving up employment rights across the board, but if the recent court case is about attacking Uber, then it's really part of a campaign to protect the monopoly position of black cab taxis in London - rather than promoting the interests of the travelling public.

I'll be interested to see what happens in the months ahead because the Uber judgement affects only the two former drivers who brought the case and it seems certain that the decision will be appealed.

In the meantime, have a read at following article by Hugo Rifkind in The Times (albeit behind the paper's paywall) which makes some interesting points.

If you crush Uber you’ll get something worse

By Hugo Rifkind - The Times

There may be a case for these taxi drivers having employment rights, but an uglier, less regulated model will then take over

True story. About 18 months ago, after I’d been reviewing some massive, massive speakers, a very old man with white hair turned up on my doorstep to collect them.

“Courier!” he said, sounding like somebody out of a Werther’s Originals advert.

“For the speakers?” I said, alarmed.

“You think I’m too old,” he said, accusingly.

“No!” I said, completely lying.

“I’m only 91!” he said.

This was my cue to laugh, nervously, and his to show me his passport, which said he’d been born in 1923.

“Oh,” I said, and then insisted on carrying the things myself, even though he got quite belligerent about it. They almost didn’t fit into his Citroen hatchback. Felt like I was dreaming.