The Uber files released yesterday reveal how Uber’s current success is built on unethical practices and political access to bend existing legislation, putting their drivers’ safety and wellbeing at risk. Beyond the US and Europe, Uber has used these questionable practices to expand across the Global South and continues to do so by lobbying for weaker labour regulations. In India, Bangladesh and Egypt, for instance, our research has found evidence of workers accumulating significant debts to Uber, trapping them in service to the platform.
Research from the Fairwork project, University of Oxford, which rates working conditions in the platform economy, finds Uber consistently amongst the lowest scoring across countries in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Even in the UK, where their drivers are employed by the platform, Uber could not evidence they offer fair pay, conditions, and management.
If Uber “will not make excuses for past behaviour”, Fairwork calls for government intervention to ensure platforms do more to improve the working conditions of their workers today. On December 2021, the European Commission proposed a directive to improve the working conditions in platform work. There is also a new status of workers bill, which aims to improve the working conditions of platform and other precarious workers in the UK. While these legislative measures are important steps toward ensuring fairer working conditions, they will only be as good as their enforcement. The Uber Files show that powerful companies are able to evade the authorities under the current system of enforcement. We need stronger trade unions and labour institutions along with governments that put labour issues first.
Find out more about Fairwork‘s research and their campaign to improve the plight of platform workers across the globe.
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