British MP 'won't use morally wrong Uber'


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Media captionRebecca Long-Bailey told Today Uber’s “not morally acceptable”

Labour’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has said she doesn’t use taxi app Uber because it is not “morally acceptable”.

“I don’t like the way they treat their workers,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Ms Long-Bailey claimed Uber drivers were being “exploited” and should have the same rights as workers with permanent jobs.

Uber said its drivers liked “being their own boss”.

Ms Long-Bailey told Today: “I don’t personally use Uber because I don’t feel that it is morally acceptable but that’s not to say they can’t reform their practices.”

She added: “I don’t want to see companies model their operations on the Uber model.”

The San Francisco-based company argues that its drivers are not employees but self-employed contractors.

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An Uber spokesman said: “Millions of people rely on Uber to get around and tens of thousands of drivers use our app to make money on their own terms.

“Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades before our app existed and with Uber they have more control.

“Drivers are totally free to choose if, when and where they drive with no shifts or minimum hours. In fact the main reason people say they sign up to drive with Uber is so they can be their own boss.

“Drivers using Uber made average fares of £15 per hour last year after our service fee and, even after costs, the average driver took home well over the National Living Wage.

“We’re also proud to have moved things on from this industry’s cash-in-hand past since every fare is electronically recorded, traceable and transparent.”

‘Dependent contractor’

An employment tribunal last year ruled that Uber drivers were entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the national minimum wage.

The tribunal described Uber’s claim that its London operation was a network of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common technology platform as “faintly ridiculous”.

The company’s appeal against the employment tribunal decision will be heard later this year.

The tribunal said Uber drivers were not employees in the traditional sense, so were not entitled to the full range of employment rights, but could be classed as workers while they were using the Uber app and so were entitled to the minimum wage.

A government commissioned report by Tony Blair’s former adviser, Matthew Taylor, recommends creating a new category of worker called a “dependent contractor”, who should be given extra protections by firms such as Uber and Deliveroo.

‘Real benefits’

But Ms Long-Bailey said this would not necessarily help them.

“We don’t really need a new status, the court victories that we’ve far have proved that many of these so-called self-employed people who work for the likes of Uber, for example, are workers and should be given adequate protections.

“And I do worry that if this isn’t dealt with in sufficient detail, it could undermine the court rulings of Uber, for example, which it was hoped to have wide-ranging implications for the industry.”

Ms Long-Bailey’s deputy, shadow business minister Chi Onwurah, said she used Uber, but would have to reconsider if workers’ rights were not strengthened.

The Labour MP told Sky News: “These services bring real benefits to people. As a single woman leaving a meeting at 11 o’clock at night, being able to trace and see that your Uber is approaching is a benefit.

“We are not putting the blame on consumers and users of these applications.”

But, she added, “if the regulatory form doesn’t come through then I would find it very hard to use Uber or Deliveroo because it is important that we support strong working rights”.



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